Cross Pollination

Last night I had a wonderful opportunity to share my art with a student of mine. Lizzy is a senior in my AP Studio Art class. When Tyler School of Art put out a call for entries for a juried exhibition for Tyler alumni and their students, Lizzy’s art work immediately came to my mind. We celebrated at Tyler School of Art last night. It was exciting to experience an opening with a student along with my former college professors and mentors. It felt like my own art education coming full circle.

Me and Lizzy Tyler School of Art

Here is what I wrote:

Part of my philosophy of education is to have a safe, creative learning environment. Specifically a safe place for high school art students to explore their own ideas and concepts. This fall, I begin my 19th year of teaching high school art and I continue to be inspired by my student’s openness and willingness to try new things, to experiment and take chances in their art. For example, each time I show my advanced painting and printmaking students how to create an intaglio print I am amazed by their creativity and enthusiasm for the process. They are transfixed by the process and it opens up a whole new world for them. What I continue to learn from my students is to have sense of wonder and fearlessness within one’s art work.

My art making process seeps into my teaching through my demonstrating and sharing of my own personal artistic practices. I show my students my sketchbook. I bring in art I am currently making along with showing them finished work on my website. I share with them the process of applying to juried exhibitions, the joy of acceptance and the disappointment of rejection. To prepare them for college and the art world beyond, I want my high school students to have knowledge about what a practicing artist goes through: finding an artistic voice, balancing art making and working a job, along with exhibiting art. 

Since 2014, I have been making art that explores impermanence, loss and grief. I have shared my personal stories which fuel my art with my students. Sometimes I will work on my own art while my students are creating their own. This inevitably creates a dialogue between two artists. A student might ask my what I’m doing or they’ll ask why or what is my piece about. They will also ask how I did a particular technique. This is how they learn and how I learn. Other times, I’ve asked them for their opinions on a piece of my work…their insight and suggestions are always helpful plus help foster a learning environment of collaboration.

For this reason, I have have chosen this particular student’s altered book to partner with my own work. Lizzy Ashbrook is a rising senior and was has explored the concept of grief in many works of art throughout the past school year. I am in awe of a young person’s ability to take on the emotion and status of grief. She and I are tackling the suffering of grief in our own ways but there is very much a dialogue between us as artists. I am also impressed with Lizzy’s ability to investigate the many layers and nuances of grief.

To see our art through the front window of Tyler School of Art was exhilarating considering it was at Temple University where my parents met and their story began. Having a work of art, which honors the memory of my Dad, on display there was another circle in the wheel of life.

My biggest fans!
My biggest fans!

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For the months of June and July, I am creating a work of art on an index card through Daisy Yellow Art. I participated last year and found it to be an incredibly helpful way to stay creative during the summer months. The process is simple, create a work of art on a 3″x5″ index card and post it to the Daisy Yellow ICAD Facebook group. I’ve also posted each index card to my Instagram account @jenniferrodgersart. Posting to social media has been a great way for me to stay motivated and have accountability to myself. It’s also been so helpful in terms of getting constructive feedback and encouragement. I also think the small size helps demystify the process of making a work of art each day.

With six days left, I will have created 61 original works of art plus the 61 that I created last year.  My dear friend Dee Collins of 27th Street Press suggested I cut mats for them and sell them. Before she suggested this, I hadn’t thought about what to do with all of these little works of art. Ideally, I’d like to exhibit all 122 together before I sell any of them. So off to her house I went and we cut a bunch of mats to get this process underway. Here we are having lunch in downtown Bethlehem, PA.

Dee & Me

The index card I made for that day is titled On Ralston Road as a thank you to Dee and all of her mat cutting expertise.

49/61. On Ralston Road

#Trending: Contemporary Art Now!

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Earlier this week I received the catalog for Trending: Contemporary Art Now! Three of my works are included in the slideshow at Target Gallery-Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. The book is beautiful and the art work is incredible.  I feel honored to have my work included in this exhibition sponsored by the Women’s Caucus for Art. You can view the online catalog here. The catalog can be purchased on Amazon.Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 6.32.12 AM.

Exhibiting in 2016.

Trending Now!

Three of my works are featured on the Women’s Caucus for Art online exhibition Trending: Contemporary Art Now! Scroll down a little and you will see my image I Wish You The Sunshine Of Tomorrow or you can search by name.

I also have two works in the 6th Annual 3rd Street Gallery Community Exhibition in Philadelphia, PA. We took the boys to the First Friday opening last night. After that, we stopped at The Clay Studio to see their art teacher and our colleague who had a ceramic sculpture on display there.

ThirdStreetGallery

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A New Year. A look back.

In reflecting on 2015, I am amazed by everything that has happened. It was a year of newness, change, and transition; the ebb and flow of life alas, impermanence. It was a year of leaning in to this impermanence and practicing compassion and mindfulness on a whole new level. In January 2015, I began in earnest, a regular meditation practice. I meditate each morning for 30+ minutes. For the first time in my 43 years, I have found inner peace. It feels beautiful!

Other transformative things occurred in 2015: we moved to a new state, my youngest brother got married and our middle brother received a liver transplant! Life is amazing. Moving from New Jersey to Pennsylvania relieved us of a monstrous and stressful commute and put the boys in a new school district (which happens to be the one where we teach and one of the best school districts in the state of PA). Scott and I had art exhibited at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford. My piece, Strata of Memories won first place in the mixed media category.

CAC member show Sean&Julie dolphin watch

Throughout all of this, I continue to create art. For June and July, I participated in Daisy Yellow’s index card a day challenge which resulted in 61 works of art. It was invigorating! To do this while finishing the school year, having my brother’s wedding, and moving, I developed a process: created lots of prepared backgrounds, worked with familiar materials  and had several cards going at once. Working on a small size was helpful.

June2015 iCad July2015 iCad

After a vacation in August to Cape May, New Jersey we began the school year. I was lucky enough to have a rock star of a student teacher with me throughout the fall semester. Simply put, she is a gem! She made it possible for me to be present with my brother when he underwent a liver transplant in November. Back in June, I created an index card series about my brother’s liver disease, PSC as a way to use my art to create awareness. Little did I know that when I made these pieces in the heat of the summer, that he would undergo a liver transplant a few months later. My brother’s liver donor and family are never far from my mind. His final act of donating his organs is the ultimate act of generosity and kindness. My brother is alive today because of an organ donor. You can register to be an organ donor here.

PSCawareness

A special thank you to those who made my first time as a Sepsis Ambassador a HUGE success! My commitment to making art to create awareness continues and is also an important part of my philosophy of art education. The art I have made led to a connection with Sepsis Alliance. You can read and listen to my interview on NPR here. Sepsis Alliance asked me to become an ambassador in December to raise funds and awareness. It felt like such a special way to honor the memory of my Dad during the holidays (he loved Christmas so so much).

In closing, 2015 taught me so much about the fragility and preciousness of human life,  and embracing the present moment. Tomorrow my family will gather to say goodbye to my dear cousin Kalin McNichol. She died on December 23, 3015 after a courageous battle with colon cancer. Her smile and positive energy were electric! Growing up, I idolized her: her sense of humor, her fashion sense, and her easy way of being. In 2002, she was in my wedding. A kindred spirit and practitioner of yoga, she understood me in ways few do. Kalin, you are forever loved and forever missed.

Kalin&Jennifer

 

 

Raising Awareness

Last month I was contacted by Sepsis Alliance to become a Sepsis Ambassador. In this capacity, I have agreed to raise funds and awareness for sepsis throughout the month of December. This seemed like an incredibly beautiful way for me to honor the memory of my dad who loved Christmas so so much.

Help me support Sepsis Alliance by making a donation. The process is fast, easy, and secure. I truly appreciate any support you can provide. It will benefit a great cause! Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Sepsis kills about 258,000 Americans each year.

Here is the link to my fundraising page.

Sepsis Fundraising

An art show, some yoga and NPR.

Lots of exciting things have been happening lately so much so that I haven’t had time to update my website. Some of these happenings include: an art exhibit, two interviews with NPR,  a Sepsis Alliance yoga event, the spring art show at the high school where I teach, and Little League…lots and lots of Little League.

On Thursday, March 26th, NPR Science Correspondent Richard Harris came to my house to interview me for a story he is doing on sepsis. His story investigates the research going on about sepsis, its causes and treatments. According to Sepsis Alliance, sepsis kills over 250,000 Americans annually. In 2014, my dad became part of that statistic. I was so honored to be able to share my dad’s heroic story with Richard. Hopefully it will air on NPR sometime in the near future. Stay tuned…

As a follow-up to that interview, I had a second interview with NPR. This time Meredith Rizzo, Multimedia Production Assistant for the Science Desk, interviewed me more specifically about my art work. She and I spent about an hour on the phone discussing my art, my influences and my process. I realized that it is incredibly easy for me to talk to my students about their art and to talk to them about art throughout history but turning the table onto myself and discussing my own art work proved to be more challenging than I expected. This interview along with images of my art and my dad will go up on NPR’s website when my interview with Richard Harris airs.

April 16th was the opening reception for Beyond the Classroom: Educator Artists at the Henry Gallery at Penn State Great Valley. The Pennsylvania Art Education Association organized a show of 27 art educators from Delaware, Chester, Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. It was wonderful to have my art included amongst this distinguished group.

Beyond the Classroom: Educator Artists, The Henry Gallery at Penn State Great Valley.
Beyond the Classroom: Educator Artists, The Henry Gallery at Penn State Great Valley.
Beyond the Classroom: Educator Artists, The Henry Gallery at Penn State Great Valley campus.
Beyond the Classroom: Educator Artists, The Henry Gallery at Penn State Great Valley.

And just this past weekend, I drove up to South Orange, NJ to participate in Salutations for Sepsis at South Mountain Yoga. Sepsis Alliance organized this wonderful event. I had the honor of meeting Sepsis Alliance Executive Director Thomas Heymann. It was so moving to participate in a yoga practice that I could dedicate to the memory of my dad. It was also encouraging to be amongst a group of people interested in spreading sepsis awareness.

Salutations for Sepsis at South Mountain Yoga in South Orange.
Me and Sepsis Alliance Executive Director Thomas Heymann at Salutations for Sepsis, South Mountain Yoga in South Orange, NJ.

And then there was our annual Varsity Arts Awards and Exhibition along with our National Art Honor Society induction on April 21st. I inducted 17 of Strath Haven High School’s most talented and dedicated young artists into NAHS. This night is always so special because we award varsity letters to our accomplished visual artists, musicians, vocalists and performers.

Last but not least, my boys and baseball. Little League had taken over what little free time we have. Two practices and two games per week. Luckily the boys both enjoy it and the weather seems to be cooperating.

Hugo at bat

Malcolm on the field