May 22 – July 3, 2014
Thursday, May 22, 2014
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
ClampArt is very pleased to announce Jen Davis’ exhibition “Eleven Years,” which coincides with the release of the monograph of the same title from Kehrer Verlag (Hardcover, 120 pages, 10.9 x 9.2 inches, $50). This is the artist’s first solo show in New York City.
Jen Davis explained to an interviewer in 2013: “In this body of work, I deal with my insecurities about my body image and the direct correlation between self-perception and the way one is perceived by others.“
Overweight from an early age, Davis knew no different, but by 2002, she began to reflect on her life, telling her story through photographic self portraits, revealing her thoughts and opinions about the society in which we live—a society that dictates beauty based on one’s physical appearance. Originally employing a 4 x 5 view camera, she bravely turned the lens on herself, exploring not only her own insecurities, but also addressing broader societal standards of beauty, and how those rigid strictures impact individual lives. Challenging traditional expectations of female representation, the series continued for eleven years as Davis completed a BFA program at Columbia College Chicago and an MFA program at Yale University in New Haven before moving to New York City.
Commenting upon the formal richness of her self portraits, Davis says: “In retrospect, [I was subconsciously constructing] images that were compelling to look at that would be seductive. The beauty of the picture was in the light and in the use of color—it was beauty that I could control, a world of beauty that I myself created and inhabited. In a way what I was doing was seducing myself. I couldn’t necessarily identify with the idea of someone seeing me as ‘beautiful,’ but I could accept that the pictures that I created and inhabited were. It was a very contradictory experience.”
The photographs in this powerful body of work courageously reveal the artist’s desire for love and intimacy, and track the treacherous path to self-acceptance. Davis explains, “In the work what I kept returning to is: What is love? Am I loveable? Can someone find me attractive?… At home with mundane surroundings, I treated the camera as if it were my lover—the camera desiring me, providing me the glimpse of what was missing in my life.”
Davis’ eleven year’s of reflection and introspection expertly bring into focus everyone’s passing sorrow and loneliness, in addition to our common moments of self-doubt and sometimes suffocating fears of inadequacy. Jen Davis’ story is both a personal one and something strikingly universal.
Davis’ work has been exhibited extensively both nationally and abroad. She is the recipient of a large number of distinguished awards, and her work is part of the permanent collections of many major museums including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Columbus Museum of Art; the Library of Congress, Washington, DC; the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.