Interview with Jeane Cohen – Portray Perceptions

Photograph credit score: Felice Boucher

The painter Jeane Cohen just lately emailed me to inform me about her exhibitions that have been then at present on show in NYC, Three Women, a three-person show at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects and Waxing Glimmer,  Shedding Beams,  a solo exhibition at Slag Gallery that’s up by means of August 27 (link to a NY Times review of this present)

After trying extra carefully on the on-line photographs of her present’s present work and her earlier work from a number of years in the past on her web site – I made a decision to seek out out extra about her and to do that e mail interview.

I used to be intrigued by how she advanced from her earlier involvement with direct portray from nature to her current abstracted landscapes. Her newest giant oil work appear to take inspiration from the spirit of such painters as Joan Mitchell, who said in 1958, “I paint from remembered landscapes that I carry with me—and remembered emotions of them, which after all turn out to be reworked. I may actually by no means mirror nature. I would really like extra to color what it leaves me with.” The late Thomas Nozkowski’s work may come to thoughts together with his painted response to particular reminiscences of locations, issues, and experiences, reworking these reminiscences with graphic symbols, patterns, and marks into his summary compositions.

Secret Backyard, 36in x 36in, oil on canvas, 2022

From the gallery press launch:

“Slag Gallery is happy to current Waxing Glimmer, Shedding Beams, Jeanne Cohen’s second solo exhibition at Slag & RX gallery.

“Cohen will not be solely depicting imagery, however by means of art-making, the artist can be producing perceivable slivers of the cosmos. Within the artist’s personal phrases: “My work are like light folds within the material of the cosmos, which is pressed up towards itself and senses itself in two locations directly. Very like once I place my hand on my coronary heart and have the simultaneous experiences of twoness and oneness, my work create sensory contact between minds. Every portray is sort of a shed pores and skin of my consciousness.”

Jeane Cohen’s work mirror the boomerang-like tendencies of nature, with an inside capability for name and response and aware resonance.”

Jeane Cohen is an artist based mostly in New York Metropolis and Maine, and her many notable accomplishments embody A 2022 Pollock-Krasner Basis Grant and a 2022-2023 Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program Award. Cohen has proven her work all through the nation and overseas with 5 solo and thirty-four group exhibitions. She has obtained quite a few awards, grants, and residencies, together with the William & Dorothy Yeck Younger Painters Competitors, the Elizabeth Greenshields Basis Grant, and the Ox-Bow College of Artwork Artists’ Residency. She obtained her MFA from the College of the Artwork Institute of Chicago in 2018.

Larry Groff: What have been your early years like? Have been you given quite a lot of help for art-making as a toddler?

Jeane Cohen: My household inspired me to make artwork and be messy. I had quite a lot of alone time as a toddler throughout which I made sculptures, illustrated story books and crafted imaginary worlds. I used to be an obsessive maker from an early age and my fingers have been busy on a regular basis. In kindergarten my instructor instructed me I spent an excessive amount of time on the drawing desk and wanted to department out into different academic actions. I’ve at all times had a robust artist drive that places me within the studio on daily basis. And I’ve been so fortunate to have labored with wonderful artwork lecturers. I had my first oil portray lesson once I was 12. After I was 16 I took a extra rigorous oil portray class and I principally haven’t stopped portray since then.

Tentatively Optimistic, 36in x 36in, oil on canvas, 2022

Blushing Pomes, 60in x 48in oil on canvas, 2021

LG: As a substitute of a typical artwork college, you selected to get your BA in Psychoanalysis and Visible Artwork at Hampshire Faculty in Amherst. What was that like for you? What are you able to say about how your examine there has influenced your method to your work and subject material?

Jeane Cohen: Hampshire was nice as a result of I may suppose creatively throughout disciplines and the curriculum is targeted on self-directed interdisciplinary examine. You may actually examine no matter you have an interest in at Hampshire, and your final 12 months is devoted to an enormous challenge. One in every of my mates designed and constructed a automotive and one other buddy studied how zoning legal guidelines influence registered intercourse offenders. In my final 12 months, I illustrated a wordless visible graphic novel integrating psychoanalytic concepts right into a story about therapeutic and group. At Hampshire, there’s a robust social justice focus, so most courses you’re taking will relate issues again to ethics, sustainability, and organizing. It’s nice since you study to need to be a transformational particular person on this planet, and it’s embedded into the curriculum.

LG: After graduating from Hampshire Faculty, you labored as a Psychological Well being Counselor for a time. You then labored on numerous artwork and remedy issues, similar to many Mural Arts Tasks in Philadelphia, as a Lead Therapeutic Instructing Artist, the Porch Gentle Wellness initiative, the place you labored on a sequence of participatory accordion books about emotional wellness and likewise later labored on a Jail artwork challenge. Are you able to say one thing about what this counseling and group service expertise was like for you and what, if something, has this dropped at your portray?

Jeane Cohen: That’s proper! I didn’t know I used to be going to pursue portray professionally. I assumed I used to be going to color on the facet and have one other profession. So for some time, I labored as a counselor and in group arts. Throughout my first job out of faculty, I labored with adults with power psychological diseases similar to schizophrenia and psychosis. These of us had a really completely different day-to-day expertise of actuality than I did. It suited me as a result of I like connecting with folks, and we discovered loads of different issues to attach about. I ran an artwork group for some time when I labored there, and that ultimately received me going with murals and group artwork in Philly. However I used to be portray the entire time. At a sure level, I spotted I wasn’t getting paid a lot at any of those different jobs I’d labored and I might remorse not going to graduate college to study extra about portray. Indirectly, spending time with folks and portray are like two sides of the identical coin. They’re each concerned with speaking one thing significant.

Gilt Ash, 2021 diptych 65in x 48in oil on canvas

Flower Crush, 2019, oil on canvas, 12in x 12in,

LG: You then attended the MFA program in Portray and Drawing on the College of the Artwork Institute of Chicago. How was your expertise there?

Jeane Cohen: I realized quite a bit concerning the custom of picture making, portray particularly, and what our eyes and minds are able to spatially. I truly didn’t know a lot about artwork historical past earlier than I received to grad college. I simply knew that I wanted to color and wished to get higher. My lecturers have been wonderful. I labored with so many individuals who every had a distinct viewpoint about portray, however all inspired me to remain true to myself. SAIC is cool in that means, they get into no matter you’re into after which they present you how one can do what you’re into at high notch.

LG: I’ve heard that many MFA packages immediately, similar to on the Artwork Institute, can place extra emphasis on the concepts behind making your artwork, like Vital Artwork Idea, and fewer give attention to studio follow than was widespread in earlier instances. When faculties create this imbalance between speaking about artwork and making artwork, it upsets some historically skilled painters who focus extra on visible or formal, non-verbal points. I believe it’s truthful to say they get out-of-sorts when the eye is extra on the wall label than on the art work. What is perhaps your tackle this topic?

Jeane Cohen: My expertise was that the curriculum was geared in direction of studio time and concepts have been mentioned within the service of creating, not within the service of principle, though principle would come up in dialog. Quite than feeling a dissonance between idea and making, I spotted that the 2 may be synonymous. Even if you happen to aren’t a conceptual artist, your work nonetheless has ideas and concepts. It was actually thrilling to find out about all of the underlying meanings in my work. And terrifying. Equally to psychoanalysis, I realized that not interested by the implications of the work truly leaves you susceptible to concepts and biases you will have by no means thought of earlier than.

This has stayed with me as part of my present follow. I’ve at all times been a deep thinker, so I used to be very relieved to get to a spot the place there was a broader dialog happening about that means. Total at SAIC, I felt very inspired to color my means by means of obstacles within the follow after which take into consideration the that means of it later. And my relationship to wall textual content is that I’m open to it, however actually I’d slightly simply be with the artwork.

Jeane Cohen, The Thoughts’s I; Ed Paschke Artwork Middle, 2017

LG: Google led me to a portrait of you by Anne Harris, I believe–on her web site. Did you examine together with her at SAIC?

Jeane Cohen: That’s truly my drawing! I did a self-portrait as part of her Thoughts’s I challenge during which everybody contributed a self-portrait. It’s humorous you convey that up, although as a result of at one level throughout the challenge I drew right into a discarded self-portrait that Anne had performed of herself, and tried to complete it for her. I believe I used to be engaged on her eyes and hair. It seemed favored her.

S.L. 42x 72 inches, oil on canvas, 2018

LG: Did you examine with Dan Gustin? I ask this due to your give attention to panorama portray.

Jeane Cohen: I studied with Dan in Italy and likewise with Stanley Lewis, who was there on the time. That summer season actually received me going with panorama portray and interested by the connection between panorama area and cerebral-perceptual area. The primary time I spoke with Dan we talked for a very long time. I felt like he may see proper by means of me. It was unusual. Through the course, he gave me some recommendation concerning the work I used to be making, however largely he taught me by means of conversations and concepts. I gave a lecture on panorama whereas I used to be in Italy and I bear in mind he received up and left in the midst of it as a result of he felt prefer it was too performative. Wanting again, he most likely had some extent. Dan will inform you to your face precisely what he thinks about what you’re doing, which isn’t at all times snug however is real suggestions.

Stanley, then again, taught me how one can combine a colour from statement. I might paint close to him, and he would come over to verify what I used to be doing after which have me paint the entire thing over once more. He’d inform me to combine the colour of the sky and so I’d do it. Then he’d come again and blend it himself and present me how far off I used to be. This was all whereas he was in the midst of making his work after all. I assume he’d want a break and are available be sure the folks round him may not less than combine their colours proper.

Millennium Park, 36in x 120in diptych, oil on canvas, 2017

Backed Prairie, 32in x 42in, pastel on paper, 2017

LG: I perceive that you simply have been an outside panorama painter for a time. What led you to turn out to be extra of a studio painter? How a lot does your prior expertise with observational portray affect the way you paint immediately?

Jeane Cohen: Sure, in graduate college, there was a interval the place I used to be portray nearly completely exterior. I used to be just about alone in considering it was a radical concept to make observational panorama work. I didn’t know what I used to be doing however I knew what I wanted to be doing. So at a sure level, I knew I wanted to return to the studio and work from reminiscence, pictures and creativeness. I didn’t know why, however looking back, I believe I used to be studying the patterns of nature by means of image-making. I grew to become extra within the patterns of gestures and invention than making an attempt to get the precise colour of the sky I used to be taking a look at. I nonetheless rely closely on statement as a core element of my follow. Now it’s extra balanced with different issues like working from the portray itself or departing from the noticed reference.

LG: In your Instagram pages from a while in the past, you talked about an essay you wrote referred to as “Artwork Types of Nature: How Artists Manage Their Visible Depictions.” On this essay, you mentioned “Inventive Group,” a foundational precept of visible dynamics which are usually neglected in art work evaluation. You said, “Inventive Group is analogous to Composition, however extra particularly, it conveys the actual ways in which the artist’s aware and unconscious processes current an ontological viewpoint by means of the medium of their art work.” I’m curious to listen to extra about this. Is that this essay obtainable someplace to learn?

Jeane Cohen: I’ve checked out quite a lot of artists’ work depicting the conduct of nature, whether or not it’s illusionistic or summary. I began to consider the best way they select to arrange their photographs of nature, which any panorama painter is aware of includes organizing an infinite vary of relationships. I spotted completely different facets of nature are prioritized by completely different artists. For instance, I believe camouflage is a large a part of Xylor Jane’s work, despite the fact that she isn’t portray strolling sticks. Her work are likely to exude visceral experiences of nature, slightly than illusionistic experiences of nature, as Claire Sherman’s work does, for instance. I’ve written about 4 artists on this essay and need to prolong it to incorporate a number of extra earlier than I might contemplate publishing it. However I’m unsure if I’ll return to it. I’m not an ontological or cultural historian, so I don’t but understand how these ideas would enter the general public sphere.

LG: What modern artists curiosity or affect you probably the most?

Jeane Cohen: I by no means know what to say when of us ask me this as a result of I actually leap round with who I’m taking a look at. If I have to remind myself it’s OK to color something, I take a look at Albert Oehlen; If I have to really feel soothed, I take a look at Joan Mitchell or Helen Frankenthaler. If I would like an ass-kicking, I take a look at Katherine Bernhardt. I do take a look at each painter I can get my fingers on, from Gregor Gleiwitz to Katherina Olschbaur.

Since I’ve been in Maine, I’ve spent quite a lot of time with the work of Reggie Burrows Hodges and Kathy Bradford, who each have exhibitions up now. Kathy’s work are good to take a look at for interested by people who find themselves consistently reinventing themselves. Her worlds are each alluring with brilliant colours and gestures, in addition to scary, as figures are entangled and sure collectively, consumed by the construction of the portray itself. Reggie’s work are cool in that they appear to elude themselves despite the fact that the glowing marks on darkish grounds are mesmerizing. The work are there and never there.

LG: Inform us one thing about the way you go about making a portray. Do you will have some concept about what you need the image to be earlier than you begin, or is that one thing that comes from the portray course of?

Jeane Cohen: I begin with a colour, picture, feeling or style of portray I need to make, and I construct from there. My course of could be very experimental, and I attempt to be open to new concepts and turns in my trajectory as I start the work. Generally my unique concept traces up with the top results of the portray. Steadily I’m going by means of many concepts, usually making a number of work on high of one another earlier than I land on an excellent one. I stumble round quite a bit as I’m making, probably not figuring out the place issues are headed, or considering I do know after which realizing there’s something extra fascinating happening within the portray that I need to work with. Most of my finest work are made once I’m within the throes of feeling I is perhaps onto one thing, but being blind to it within the second.

We Have been There Collectively, 60in x 48in oil on canvas, 2022

Sunbaked, 2021 oil on canvas 60in x 48in

Polar Strike, 60in x 72in, oil on linen, 2018

Brawny Flooring, 48in x 60in, oil on linen, 2018

LG: From what I can see on-line, your newer work, like We Have been There Collectively and Solar Baked appears to be painted slowly and constructed up with layers and masking. This appears a change out of your work of a few years in the past, the place the paint has extra broad gestural strokes, possible painted with big, drippy fully-loaded brushes and provides a distinct, maybe extra emotional feeling to the composition.

Jeane Cohen: Sure, that’s proper. I’ve been deep into making a bunch of slower work within the final six months. I’m unsure I’ll proceed with this fashion of creating in my follow, however it has been helpful to see what this course of can convey. I began with the gradual work as a result of I wanted a break from making quick work, which I had performed just about continuous for the previous couple years. In 2020 and 2021 I remodeled 2 hundred work at a fast tempo, so I wanted to gradual issues down. Gradual will not be my pure technique to paint, however I additionally like throwing a wrench into my course of to see what occurs. Portray slowly lent itself to weaving work collectively and staring at them for a very long time earlier than making a transfer. It has allowed me to prioritize seeing within the work slightly than leaving every part to my hand. Now that I’ve a stronger eye for my work, I can convey that again to the opposite work.

LG: What are you able to say about how your portray course of has modified prior to now few years?

Jeane Cohen: I’ve welcomed extra imagery and collaged parts into the work. I maintain including new themes like animals or fireplace. They come up within the work on their very own for probably the most half and I attempt to get out of the best way and make room for these shifts to occur. It’s vital to say that the arrival of those parts within the work isn’t about owls or horses. I imply in a means it’s as a result of that’s the topic, however for me the themes are placeholders for emotional experiences and completely different sorts of consciousness.

Fates, 60x72in.oiloncanvas.2020

LG: There appears to be quite a lot of recurring imagery in your work. You usually embody animals and birds, decorative backyard gates, stars, solar, fires, forests and extra. The place do these come from, and why may they be vital for you?

Jeane Cohen: I like the rhythms of nature, just like the moon and the tides. I like that nature is transformation and life and dying . In artwork folks have phrases like cliche or basic for artists who embrace nature. I favor the phrase custom, and I settle for the custom of nature, despite the fact that I don’t at all times prefer it. However I’m indebted to it, and I need to perceive it higher, so I pay homage to nature by means of portray forest fires and celestial skies sprinkled with animals. The decorative backyard gates are very recent for me. They most likely level towards my curiosity within the peripheries of nature. Of course, it’s all nature ultimately, however there’s one thing to be stated for that liminal area on the fringe of nature. What’s that area like and is it just like the area on the fringe of a portray? It’s like asking the query, what’s on the fringe of the universe?

Evening Fisher, diptych 30in x 30in, oil on canvas, 2022

LG: I notably loved your 2022 oil portray diptych, Evening Fisher . It jogs my memory of a number of the extra enigmatic, mysterious later watercolors by Charles Burchfield. This portray appears to concurrently depict a forest, a discipline of sunflowers, a seascape and maybe flying fish . Please inform us one thing about why and the way this portray was made.

Jeane Cohen: Charles Burchfield is an fascinating level of reference. There’s a dappled positive-negative pulsing happening within the portray that’s just like Burchfield’s work. The place I could depart from Birchfield in a serious means is thru collage and hurling completely different occasions and spatial orientations into the portray , whereas nonetheless retaining some type of associative narrative, which on this case, is the place the title is available in. Like Burchfield is fascinated by stretching one viewpoint so far as he can, and I’m fascinated by making many factors of view relate. And the work are held collectively by a number of synonymous overlapping panorama occasions. I haven’t discovered what retains me within the style of panorama, however my finest guess for why panorama arises within the work repeatedly is that it helps with orientation. I’m portray otherworldliness however I’m additionally nonetheless portray a world. I’m protecting it tied to human expertise and I believe it’s relatable in that means.

LG: Do you hearken to music whilst you paint? In that case, is there specific music that works finest for you?

Jeane Cohen: I’ve nice admiration for musicians and sound as a result of it’s our primordial artwork type, which precedes the visible and movement-based arts. It’s so elementary and computerized, listening can assist free me as much as take dangers in portray. There’s not a selected style that works finest, I prefer it all. I simply have to work from one thing that sounds recent, and never the identical outdated watered-down stuff, until it’s a very good pop track, which is nice for giant portray strikes. However yah, hip-hop, classical, people, indie, jazz and so on. Really these days I’ve been making an attempt to not hearken to music whereas I work so I can focus solely on the work. After a ten-day meditation retreat this winter I got here again to the studio and realized how distracting noise is to my follow.

LG: Talking of music, I see the place you latterly contributed album art work for the report, The Uproar in Bursts of Sound and Silence , which you stated was additionally referred to as Chicken Songs for The Stars.

Jeane Cohen: Sure, I received to contribute the art work for this wonderful album! My buddy, Evan Strauss, was engaged on this challenge for a very long time and requested me if I wish to make one thing for it. He’s a little bit of a mystic and the unique title was Chicken Songs for The Stars , so I made a canopy to suit that theme of a chicken grazing the floor of the water and the celebs reflecting from the night time sky. Really, it’s humorous as a result of that portray can be referred to as Evening Fisher . It was the unique Evening Fisher and now there’s a second Evening Fisher portray. This occurs quite a bit in my follow. I find yourself having to retroactively title issues I and II and so forth.

LG: I perceive you at present stay in Maine – however you only recently gained a 2022 Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program award the place you get a year-long, rent-free studio in DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY, the place 17 artists have been chosen out of 1500 candidates. Congratulations! That have to be big for you. What ideas may you share about this new transfer?

Jeane Cohen: I really feel very lucky to have been awarded this residency and grateful for the chance to return to New York Metropolis, the place I had been dwelling in 2019. Throughout Covid I returned to Mid-Coast Maine, the place my household is from. Maine is so huge and stuffed with ample nature that it’s each comforting to really feel so held and intimidating to really feel so small. The wind and the ocean and the forest are high-quality with or with out me, and so it has been actually good for my artist follow as a result of it’s been only for me. It’s stored me clear-headed concerning the work I make. However I actually miss the depth and keenness of metropolis life, and I’ve most likely been a bit too remoted in Maine, so this chance has come alongside at an excellent level for me.

Mountain, 35x44in.oiloncanavas.2021

Lifeblood, 60x48in.oiloncanvas.2021

LG: You had a few solo exhibitions in 2019, titled Orgonon I and Orgonon II, on the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, and the Miami College, Oxford, OH. I’m guessing your present’s title referred to Wilhelm Reich’s property in Maine referred to as Orgonon, the place he had labored on his Orgone Power Observatory and associated within the late 40s. What are you able to inform us about this exhibit?

Jeane Cohen: I didn’t find out about this property in Maine! I named the reveals after a barely completely different spelling, Organon, which was a phrase I stumbled upon within the dictionary once I was making an attempt to call my reveals . I used to be trying to find a title that may convey my curiosity in nature, diversification, and concepts, so I went to the library the place they’ve a multi-volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary. Organon was near ‘natural’ and ‘organ’ on the web page. It’s outlined as a system of thought, organ, or instrument, so it was an excellent match. Loads of my work is concerning the nature of thought, and every work within the present was a distinct instrument of thought.

LG: Sorry, I spaced on the spelling distinction – it simply appeared to suit along with your subject material and your previous examine of artistic makes use of of psycho-analytic concepts at Hamshire Faculty.

Sweep, Gown, Hew 2021 oil on canvas 60in x 48in

LG: What recommendation may you supply aspiring younger painters who hope to get recognition, advance their careers and present their work in higher venues?

Jeane Cohen: Nothing revelatory. I believe it’s all within the service of the work. That has to return first, and every part else must be to help the work. In any other case, you’re doing every part for the mistaken causes. When you come to phrases along with your unrelenting have to make artwork or no matter it’s you do, then you may give attention to making that obsession come to life after which later begin to consider venues and recognition. The factor is, to be able to get the popularity you must maintain placing your self on the market a whole lot and 1000’s of instances earlier than somebody may take discover. And you must remember that success doesn’t essentially correlate to good artwork. You may have success with out good artwork, and you may have good artwork with out success. So long as you perceive this, you’re being sincere with your self and staying aligned with what you will have got down to do within the first place, which is to make the work.

Larry, thanks for this interview. It’s good to have a possibility to mirror on and converse in-depth about my life and follow.
LG: The pleasure is all mine, thanks on your time and consideration in writing your considerate solutions.

Tears, 65x84in.oiloncanvas.2021