Artists turn that introspective gaze towards themselves; it’s not at all unusual - most art reveals something of the person who creates it. Jenny Shircliff makes herself the subject as a way of investigating age and, by implication, mortality.
Her earlier paintings were naturalistic renderings of the figure, but her new work is a departure, in which she dramatically abstracts human form nearly beyond recognition, and equates it with landscape forms.
“Our culture's idea of figurative beauty is predicated on youth, smooth skin, and rosy complexions,” observes Shircliff, “I am inverting that tenet and looking at my own aging flesh as a recording of my life, much in the same way that time is visually marked on the landscape. Thus, I have turned to viewing various parts of my own body as elements of land formations and use them as a derivation for abstract landscape. And I draw my color from nature itself. In a way, this new body of work could be described as ‘flesh-scapes’.”
What results from this focus are images of startling graphic impact. They appear to be abstract but are, in reality, intense, close-up views of the human form that embrace and reveal their humanity. The discovery of organic pattern and shape is so universal that we mistake them for images of other animals or natural rock formations. Through this highly candid, nearly forensic self-portrait series, Shircliff reminds us that we are a part of a larger natural world.
Shircliff has returned to painting after a long period devoting herself to the studying and teaching art history. “One of the most important things I learned from that experience is that assumptions should be challenged, inverted, and viewed in a different light.”
Shircliff has taught previously at Kentucky College of Art + Design at Spalding University, KSAH, Bellarmine University, University of Louisville, IUS, JCTC, and Midway College.
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: PhD in Art History, May 2014 University of Louisville, Louisville, KY; MA in Painting, 1994 University of Louisville, Louisville, KY; BFA in Drawing, 1976 Murray State University, Murray, K
Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.