Environmental activism has long been a part of Jennifer Celio’s life and has emerged as an ongoing concern expressed in her artwork. In this feature, Jennifer shares and discusses some of her work which examines these environmental issues.
Rising and falling (Antartica)
‘Rising and falling (Antarctica)’ sprung from the tenuous balancing act between nature’s tipping point and the rise in technology and industry by humans. The front spire references structures and the human made civilizations set in front of a wall of paper and acetate substrates with imagery that references the landscape of Antarctica and the silhouettes of islands.
The installation started with the white spire, of sorts. Its construction of spiraling “H” shapes and obvious plumbing hardware joints ends up resembling the ubiquitous cell phone signal tower elements, thus contrasting the constructs of human made technology with the painted elements of nature on the wall behind it. The wall-based elements are depictions of icebergs and glaciers in Antarctica, including the Totten Glacier, which climatologists express the most concern about its inevitable cracking and melting away. Continuing with the prescient issue of climate change and rising sea levels, the dark silhouettes show specific islands and island nations that are already experiencing shrinking landmass due to rising seas. These islands are the entire Republic of Fiji, The Republic of Cape Verde (Africa), and the island of Tangier (Chesapeake Bay, US.)
The spire hovers just in front of these shrinking ecosystems and countries, but it is also on the verge of collapse, and it hovers just above a shaped mirror that acts as a stand in for the liquid water.
‘Rising and falling (Antarctica)’ was created with wood, cut paper, cut paper on acetate, handmade paper, watercolor on Yupo and paper, spray paint on mylar, plexiglass, shaped mirror and mirrors.
‘Green boots’ and ‘But is it selfie heaven?’
‘Green boots’ was made using watercolor on Yupo, paper, vinyl, cardboard, lights, thread and T-pins. // ‘But is it selfie heaven?’ was created using watercolor and charcoal on Yupo paper and cut paper.
Gravity will do its thing
Made with beach trash, blankets, cardboard, concrete, house paint, spray paint, lights, a fan and a noise machine.
Holding back the wilderness
My body of work ‘Holding back the wilderness’ incorporates paper, wood, vinyl, paint, and other materials into sculptural painting and installation pieces that explore the complicated human relationship with the natural world. Catalyzed by the polarization of ideological beliefs in the United States, the work more specifically explores American attitudes in regards to the seesawing acts of reverence and abuse of nature. This parallels my interest in how humans leave their mark on the land via our literal structures as well as the constructs of civilized society.
Through the juxtapositions of abstract and representational imagery, and material and texture contrasts, the paintings and sculptural objects weave disparate materials and techniques into compositions that reference the literal and figurative landscape. It is a search for how nature plays into our understanding of self in a universal as well as uniquely American sense.
In these partly three-dimensional yet wall-based pieces, the boundaries between painting and sculpture are blurred. At the same time, figurative elements skirt around abstraction, presenting a world and a narrative that is not readily discerned. I draw from found imagery and imagined ideas to construct worlds that comment upon the simultaneous fragility and violence of nature, and what that means for humanity as we use, observe and distort it to suit our desires and needs.
‘Holding back the wilderness’ was made with watercolor on cut paper, acrylic on canvas, vinyl and metal.
Made with cardboard, Flashe on canvas, metal, watercolor paper and wood.
Jennifer Celio is a native of Southern California who loves Los Angeles. She was raised in the suburbs of L.A. County and now lives and works in Long Beach, CA. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Berlin, Mexico, Colombia, and Canada. She is the recipient of multiple grants and residencies, and her work has received critical notice in local and national publications.