Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jennifer Schinzing

Jennifer at work

Jennifer at work in her home studio

The incredible passion I have for animals and the natural world is what inspired me to learn taxidermy. All the animal elements found in my work are road kill casualties or have died from natural and unpreventable deaths. By preserving them in the very small window of time between death and decay it forces the viewer to see them in a more intimate and surreal setting. By placing them in improbable situations, I hope to remind the viewer of our fragile world.

Sculpture

Sculptural piece by Jennifer Schinzing

I grew up in Rochester, NY and still call it my home today. I work at More Fire Glass Studio full time, managing the studio and blowing glass. On weekends I volunteer at Wild Wings (an injured bird of prey facility) helping to educate people about the environment. And at home, my husband and I, have 3 rescue greyhounds.

Jen & greyhounds

Jennifer with her 3 rescue greyhounds

Creating and making art from a very young age eventually led me to art school. I graduated from Alfred University, School of Art and Design, where I was exposed to glassblowing and continued to experiment with different materials.  My sculptural work is mixed media based. I love sourcing found objects from antique stores, sometimes those are the source of inspiration for the piece. I incorporate my own blown and sculpted glass into the work but I also incorporate vintage glass as well. 

Cyclical

Cyclical by Jennifer Schinzing

I have always felt a strong love and connection to animals and the natural world. As a kid, my sister and I spent hours upon hours playing outside, building forts and making “food” from random plants and berries. We would stay busy playing in Irondequoit Creek which ran through our backyard and enjoyed being surrounded by the wildlife that lived close by. This informed my artwork as a kid and it continues to do so today.

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Detail of a custom piece for a private residence in Chelsea, NY

My approach of beginning a piece consists of different thoughts and feelings. It isn’t always the same formula for me. I don’t do a ton of sketching, most often a vision will pop in my head and I start piecing it together. It could be the animal that inspires me, in other instances it is a found object or a lot of times I am tying  personal experiences in amongst the broader message. I hint at what the pieces are about for me in the titles but I always love for the viewer to take away their own perception of the piece if possible.

flameworking

Jennifer creating flame worked pieces for a sculpture piece

blowing glass

Jennifer blowing glass

In the indefinite continued progress of existence, there are particular moments that will change us, leaving us to wonder how or why we have gotten to this moment. The hopelessness that these periods of time create can be paralyzing and leave you wondering if you will ever be able to repair the holes. From every death comes a breathe of new life, giving us a glimmer, a feeling of repair. By creating intimate moments from personal fragments paired with an environmental connotation, a duality evolves to form a narrative that explores both sides.
Cache

Cache by Jennifer Schinzing

 I am honored to be among all of the talented artists showing work in the current exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts, I hope all of you get the chance to see the show!


Jennifer Schinzing is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Bryan Northup

Me with installation Artist with installation 'You Can't Put It Back In The Box'

Artist with installation ‘You Can’t Put It Back In The Box’

My name is Bryan Northup and I’m honored that my work “Cautionary Entrails” was selected to be a part of the de/composition exhibit at Main Street Arts. I am particularly pleased that this work found a place to be shown, framed in a such a compelling theme.

Cautionary Entrails

“Cautionary Entrails” by Bryan Northup

I am a Chicago based environmental artist, originally from Northern California. I have been making art for most of my life, drawing horses during church sermons and taking any and all art classes offered in high school. I graduated from California College of the Arts in Oakland, California with a BFA in Fine Art Photography and since then have been a self taught, intuitive artist.

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Earlier work, 2000 – 2014

I work in several media including cold and warm glass, painting, mixed media sculpture and photography. Until recently, I focused on working with glass, from traditional stained glass and mosaics to experiments with recycled bottles, creating kiln-formed, functional tableware, lighting and sculptural works.  See more here >

Plastic raw material

Plastic art material

studio

My studio worktable, kinda clean

I was awakened to the serious problem of single-use plastics in 2015. I like to think that a dead tree changed the trajectory of my art practice. I was fortunate to be selected to create a public art sculpture through the Chicago Tree Project that utilized a dead tree (one of many in the city’s parks) as a framework for sculpture. I chose to shift my material from glass bottles to plastic beverage bottles for many logistical reasons, but through the process of creating the sculpture entitled “Message In A Bottle”  I discovered the invisible scourge of single use plastic and ties to the bottled water industry. Shifting my thinking, message and medium to create with everyday found materials that no one was thinking about seemed the most important outcome of the project.

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View while installing Message in a Bottle

Before this experience I had no idea that plastic lasts forever, never decomposing, or the amounts of plastic produced, used and thrown away on a daily basis, all designed to be disposed of. As I researched more, these facts changed my awareness and the focus of my artwork.

sliced roll

Detail of a “sliced roll”

Now I use these plastics and foam to create wall relief and sculpture works that abstract food, mimic organic forms and invent pseudo-biological structures. I attempt to blur the lines between appetizing consumables, anatomical dissection and waste — exploring layers of meaning in an age where plastics have saturated our environment and penetrated human-kind both biologically and culturally, to the cellular level.

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Work in progress

While being an environmental plague, I have found plastic to be an incredibly dynamic art medium. I work with plastic as a fiber, a fabric, in some ways as a cooking ingredient, a food. I incorporate common tools such as chef knife to cut the rolls and an iron to laminate sheets of films together. Creating rolls, “sushi- style” is a technique I originated when I started working with plastic. It’s a meditation, adding unlikely and inedible ingredients like foam, bubble wrap, plastic bags while I reflect on how these same steps are so closely related to making nourishing food, something we crave and can actually eat.  I think about all the wildlife, particularly in the ocean that that ingest plastic because of our dependence on it.

Sea_Change_BN

My first plastic wall relief, Sea Change, 36×48

The organic forms and textures I create suggest perishable matter, “flesh”, “tissue” likely to spoil and decay quickly, but because these objects are created with plastic, they will never naturally decompose  but just appear to be, forever, in a state of suspended decomposition.

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Detail

Thank you for taking the time to get to know me a bit better. You can see much more of my work on my website, www.bryannorthup.com, I post regularly on Instagram @bryan.northup and have a Facebook page @beyondbiolumglass


Bryan Northup is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Taylor Kennedy

Taylor Kennedy, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of May 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Taylor some questions about her work and studio practice:

Taylor in her studio at Pratt Institute.

Taylor in her studio at Pratt Institute.

Q: Please tell us about your background?
I was raised in Sodus Point, NY ( which is a 30 minute drive North of Clifton Springs). I attended the Rochester Institute of Technology and graduated in 2015 with my BFA in Fine Art Studio. While in my last year at RIT, I realized I was not done with my education. I was just hitting my stride in my practice and wanted the safety (haha) and challenge of a MFA program. I was very lucky to get into Pratt Institute, as I was even younger and less “experienced” in the art world then. So, I moved to Brooklyn in August of 2015. It was hard, but it was what I needed. I graduated from Pratt in 2017 with my MFA in Printmaking. I stayed in the city until this past February, when I moved back home.

I have been drawing ever since I can remember. My family has a “knack” for artistry; vocally, instrumentally, written and visually.  My generation has been the only one to pursue full fledged artistic careers. I think we saw how much our parents/uncles/aunts wished they devoted more time to the arts. That is not to say it is easy, making a career in the arts; because it is fucking hard. But I can’t see myself as anything else.

I’ve worked as a teaching artist. An artist assistant. A nanny. A dog walker. A house-sitter. Living the stereotype of an artist. But these are all jobs that add to your practice, that give you insight. Make you real. Currently, I work as a substitute teacher.

I Want You in My Posse (Preliminary Layout), 2019

I Want You in My Posse (Preliminary Layout), 2019

Q: How would you describe your work?
Oh boy, I am laughing as write this. It is, for lack of a better word, my diary. I have gotten slack for my work being too “cathartic” or “therapeutic” as I speak so much of my personal background. I don’t think I would get that critique if I was a man, but I keep making it.

My work is my memory. Or memoir. Or ode to my family, as ironic as that may seem.  Or all of the above.

I think there is a universal language felt when looking at imagery that was created to speak to the poignancy felt in everyday family life. At least, that is what I am trying to poke at. I have seen and felt heartache and loss, divorce, suicide, addiction, alcoholism and mental illness. But I have also seen and felt middle class pride, true love, perseverance, and growth. They work in tandem, the dysfunctions and the functions. That’s life.

As families, we live our lives in cycles. In patterns. Sometimes, we think we break them, but I have come to find that we recreate those cycles in some other form. Across generations. Across bloodlines.

When I speak of family, I am not only speaking of my blood relations. I am speaking of my friends. Or the people I snap pictures of on the street that are sharing a moment. Or even animals. Inanimate objects telling a metaphorical familial story.

We are all related, in some way. That is what I want my work to evoke.

Chicken Soup, 2018

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Right now, I have a bank of reference pictures I draw from. That includes old personal family photos, photos I have taken and stock images I find on the internet.

For a drawing, I lay out a piece of paper, print out what reference photos are speaking to me, and start a layout in pencil or vine charcoal. Sometimes, I cut out parts. Sometimes, I add aspects of other reference photos. Sometimes, I go on memories I can still visualize in my head. It depends on that exact moment. I have been trying to be more considerate of composition, leading me to make collages of the reference photos I am thinking of using.

I follow it. I try to not plan too hard. I make notes on the paper, or the walls if I can, if I have thoughts related to my practice (which, if you haven’t noticed, is everything in my life). If it calls for becoming sculptural or an installation, I listen to it. You have to listen to the work. Sit with it. I don’t like to kill work. That is the worst.

I Want You in My Posse (Preliminary Layout), 2019

Man’s Best Friend (Preliminary Layout), 2019

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I am going to work on illustrating a children’s book that was written by my aunt, Sara Kennedy. It is going to be a challenge, seeing that I am not necessarily a “planner” and more intuitive in my process. But it is a challenge I look forward too, as it is going to be a way of learning to simplify compositions that are strong in their convictions. The imagery needs to read as if the text was not there.  The studio has printmaking equipment that I will take advantage of; I envision creating mixed media illustrations using drawing, collage and printing.

I also plan on getting some painting done. I am not a painter. Not at all. Painting is really hard. And not everyone realizes how hard painting is/that they should not be painting, because they are not painters. But, I have a ton of canvas and paint, so why not challenge myself even more? That will be more personally based. I am envisioning a large tableau-style painting of a pick-up truck right now. I’ll get back to you on if that comes to fruition.

Taylor in residence at Sodus High School, 2019

Taylor in residence at Sodus High School.

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
My body. Your body is your number one tool. I have never been an athlete, never into exercise, but if you want to make it as an artist, you need to keep yourself healthy, physically and mentally. I have carpal tunnel in my dominate hand. Arthritis, MS, and Fibromyalgia run in my family. I am trying to get myself strong. What is the point of making large things if you cannot physically handle them?

Tape is good too. You can make anything with a roll of tape.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer. Toyin Ojih Odutola. Nicole Eisenman.  Genieve Figgis. Kerry James Marshall. Egon Schiele. Alice Neel. Red Grooms. Marisol Escobar.

They are storytellers. They were/are transparent. I think it is honest. Their work is not trying to be “art”, it just is.

"Ven, To!" (Preliminary Layout), 2019

“Ven, To!” (Preliminary Layout), 2019

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
Kids make the best work. And they have no idea, which makes it even better. So schools, the backs of homework, scraps of paper, desks. Anywhere a kid would create.

Q: Do you collect artwork? Tell us about your collection.
I do, a little. I have work of my peers and of young artists (kids) I have taught. The adult work I have mostly because of trading them with my own work. The kid work I have is because it was gifted to me or I commissioned it. I would rather pay a child to make me something than an adult.

I suppose I am a sentimental sucker at heart. But that is the only way to be.

Town of Sodus, 2015

Town of Sodus, 2015

Q: What’s next for you?
At this moment, making dinner. I am trying really hard to not think ahead. I am an anxious person; I have to teach myself to live in the moments.

Q: Where else can we find you?
I am on Instagram @taylor_mica_kennedy and my website is www.taylormkennedy.com

Meet the Artist in Residence: Elizabeth Courtney

Elizabeth Courtney, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of May 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Elizabeth some questions about her work and studio practice:

Artist Elizabeth Courtney

Artist Elizabeth Courtney paining en plein air

Q: Tell us about your background.
Hi I’m Liz. I’m super excited to have the opportunity to paint here for the next four weeks. Let me tell you a little about myself and my work…

I have been painting in Eastern Connecticut, all my life. I decided to try to take my art to a more professional level my junior year of high school when I attended the RISD pre college program. I quickly realized I was out of my league there. So for my undergrad I did not want to go to an art school. I ended up at an environmental liberal arts college called Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont. I started there thinking I was going to go for environmental studies but something kept drawing me back to the studio. I still don’t know what it was.

I graduated from there in three years with my BFA with a concentration in painting in 2016. After a little while I realize that not going to art school for my undergrad may have been a mistake career wise, not personally, so I decided to do a post bac in Florence, Italy. That was easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Studying painting in Italy, not only got me to truly open up as an artist for the first time in my life but I also met so many other artists that introduced me so many new concepts and ideas I would have never been exposed to. Some of those artists even helped me get into other residencies and galleries. I am forever grateful for
that.

Elizabeth Courtney, "This Green Place II”, 2018, oil and acrylic on panel

Elizabeth Courtney, “This Green Place II”, 2018, oil and acrylic on panel

Q: How would you describe your work?
I am a plein air oil painter. I love painting outside. I have found that painting outside on site just helps me live in the moment. I truly appreciate where I am and what I came here to do. I know that I am not the best painter ever, but I love it. I don’t care that I am not the best painter, I just want to create an image that evokes an emotional response even if it is just for me.

Elizabeth Courtney, “Truth”, 2018, oil on canvas, 18”x24”

Elizabeth Courtney, “Truth”, 2018, oil on canvas

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I feel like my process and style of painting are always changing but only the one thing that stays the same is that I take my paintings outside. Recently, I have been starting in the studio and experimenting with acrylic underpaintings so that I don’t start on the intimidating white surface.  Sometimes I completely cover that surface in a made up color of oil paint which I draw into, exposing layers of paint that I constantly change with more paint. Most people are afraid that it would get muddy and sometimes it does but I love finding the perfect top color and making it bright.

One of the biggest problems I have as an artist is knowing when to call my paintings done. I want to get better at that and I think I am.

Work by Elizabeth Courtney

Work by Elizabeth Courtney

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I want to paint outside as much as possible during this residency. Possibly everyday if I can, even if it’s raining. Last summer I did some really cool paintings in the rain, in my car and under shelters at State parks.

I really want to drive around the area as much as possible, too. I want to get to Lake Ontario, Niagara Falls, and other state parks around the area to paint. I really want to do an en plein air painting of Niagara Falls—I just think that would be really cool!

I wouldn’t mind selling some of the paintings I do as this residency. I’ve recently started running out of wall space.

Work by Elizabeth Courtney

Work by Elizabeth Courtney

Q: What’s next for you?
As far as after this residency, I took a job with the Chautauqua Institute residence life department for the summer where, hopefully, I can keep painting there. I don’t have a ton of plans after that but I would love to someday get my masters in fine arts, maybe in Europe, but who knows. That might be my favorite part of being an artist. I don’t know what’s next.

Q: Where else can we find you? 
I am very active on Instagram @elizabeththeartist. I try to keep it as up to date as possible.