Jaclyn Mednicov | Artist in Residence
Jaclyn Mednicov in her studio at SEA Foundation
Photographer: Rene van der Hulst, 2021
July – September
The global pandemic gives us no chance to escape and throws us back to our own roots. We drew comfort and hope from nature last year and many people turned to gardening, which proved to be the ultimate lockdown project. Even the square meter of a balcony offered solace. The Corona crisis forced us to live locally, it reduced our radius of action and offered us opportunities to become aware of our immediate surroundings again. The need for greenery and nature seems to have grown exponentially. For those who do not have their own patch of greenery, the social distancing and the lockdown were a lot easier to cope with if they could take an occasional walk in the park or in the woods. Seen in this light, it becomes clear that we turn to nature for relaxation and a decrease in daily stimuli, and therefore have the opportunity to pay more attention to ourselves.
The Garden as Microcosm
In the past year, more and more artists have turned their attention to the garden. The garden as a microcosm and as a mirror of the world stems from a centuries-old tradition. In different cultures and religions, the garden is associated with a harmonious and secluded sanctuary. Think of the Garden of Eden, for instance, which is seen as the first paradise. The term ‘maker of paradise’ refers to the cultivation of nature, the roots of which are ancient and go back to the sixth century, when ideas for ornamental gardens after nature were being realized in China. Gardens were and are the work of artists, and quite often these pieces of cultivated nature themselves serve as entertainment or inspiration to painters and writers.
Nature is our Treasure
Without the gardens, art would have looked very different. The magic of nature leaves us speechless at times. No wonder that artists have been inspired by nature for centuries. Not only because of its ornamental qualities, its splendour and its connection with the seasons but also because of the emotions nature evokes in us; by blooming, bearing fruit or in decay. A plant, like a work of art, is able to captivate us day after day.
Many writers, poets and painters had a soothing garden. Claude Monet would never have been able to paint his famous Japanese bridge, weeping willows and water lilies without his garden in Giverny, Normandy. Goethe could never have developed his garden philosophy without his charming garden in Weimar. Nature is a treasure, a prerequisite for life and a great source of inspiration. The French artist Matisse had a Monstera deliciosa collection, which inspired several works of art. The work La Gerbe, for example, from 1953, was created by observing the beautiful fan-shaped leaves of the Monstera.
For many years Jaclyn Mednicov has been working with plants from her garden. Mednicov draws inspiration from the flora around her and her imagination is unleashed through everything that grows, blooms and decays from what nature offers. In addition, she relates to her inwardness and in doing so she let go of feelings and aims to depict whatever is going on inside. While painting the flow dictates how work develops. Experiencing nature, like art, appeals to our senses, in which shapes and colours play a major role. While the forms and colours in nature are predetermined by the species, Mednicov determines the form and colour of her work through her choice of materials: paint and canvas, ceramics, textiles and plaster. As well as by her emotions and intuition. Her working method and her works are therefore experimental, versatile and ambient.
She manipulates fragments from the environment, both flowers and weeds, using incomplete processes of transfer. Her work includes drawings, paintings, collages, ceramics, sculpture and combinations thereof. Her works try to preserve the sense of beauty and visualize the boundaries between what man considers to be nature and “made environments”. Her work is lively, engaging, and as well as transformative. Mednicov accepts the not-knowing because life is never definite because nature teaches one to accept extremes. And in the extremes, Mednicov’s work brings to the surface the awareness that our natural environment possesses a spellbinding beauty, and is also deteriorating and disappearing from our lives at an ever-increasing rate.
The Practice of Jaclyn Mednicov
The work of Jaclyn Mednicov (b. 1977) deals with the relationship between life and death: nature. Her work considers the human condition and addresses our human interrelationship with nature. Nature that seduces, comforts, heals, distracts, complains or even kills. Her work contains affinities between the sexes, human desires and ecological solidarity. Her work depicts beauty, decay, the effects of selection and thus forms a mysterious language that allows for the unexpected. In her work, she depicts the power of nature’s beauty and establishes a new aesthetic of her own that goes beyond characteristics of natural beauty.
Jaclyn Mednicov works and lives in Chicago IL, USA. She holds an MFA in painting and drawing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Mednicov has done residencies in the United States and in Europe, for example at Vermont Studio Center (year), the Ragdale Foundation and at SEA Foundation 2021. She has won awards such as the NEA Prize, and her work is in private and public collections. Magazines such as New American Paintings and Sheridan Road Magazine wrote about her work.
Website Jaclyn Mednicov
The residency was made possible with a grant from The Nederland-America Foundation and support from Tilburg Municipality