Jennifer Wynne Reeves was known for creating a body of paintings, drawings and photographs that speak to and confront formalist and humanist dilemmas. Beyond her achievements in the art world, Reeves enjoyed a considerable fan-base as a result of her astonishing Facebook presence where she chronicled and interwove her art and diaristic prose.
Reeves solo exhibitions included Art & Public in Geneva, Gian Enzo Sperone in Rome; Max Protetch, Ramis Barquet and BravinLee programs, NYC. Reeves was also celebrated for her writing. She produced a graphic novel, The Anyway Ember and Soul Bolt, a book of images and prose. “Profoundly rewarding works” said LA Times writer, David Pagel, in a review her 2015 exhibition at CB1 Gallery. Reeves is a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow recipient.
Twenty years ago, I called them slugs. In the beginning, they were like long lumps without arms or legs. Powerless. Difficult. Paralyzed. I thought maybe they were the symbols of sloth or depression or fear. They didn’t do anything. I wondered if I should stop making them? They were not beautiful. Nobody liked them. Nobody wanted to look at them. They were repellent and, worse, they were funny. I hated that. I wanted to be a “serious” artist. I was conflicted. I had to make the images that came to me but I was embarrassed. Maybe it wasn’t a fancy path but painting slugs was more honest than painting flowers (nothing against flower paintings, mind you). It came down to a moral choice. So, I determined to follow the slug road. Maybe it was a road that led somewhere? Or maybe not.
After several years, I thought I hit a dead-end. I stopped the slug imagery and started making purely abstract paintings. Eventually, abstract lines and forms evolved into “characters.” They lived in landscapes of a realistic sort. They were abstractions on a representational journey. It occurred to me that they were the slugs. I thought they had gone but they hadn’t. It occurred to me that they were the slugs. I thought they had gone but they hadn’t. They were the slugs transformed. Evolved slugs and broken out from their cocoons. They had become abstract “butterflies.” Little kids liked them. I hated that. I wanted to be a “serious” artist.
I’m not sure, exactly, who they are. They could be our conscience, our psychology, or simply the part inside us that yearns. They could be artists, modernists or the first of “us” that crawled out of the ocean. My best hunch is they are whatever it is that makes us want to make. I hope that’s a good thing and beautiful and seriously funny. Whatever the case, I’d like to know what it’s all about.
Jennifer Reeves, 2007-2008