2016, Mixed media, oil paint, on canvas. various sizes. from ten inces across to three feet across.
With Foreigner! I explore and correlate contemporary and historical xenophobia and migration stories. The action of the work involves research, photography and employing mechanisms of abstraction. The material result includes pictures and didactic essays. For each piece to come alive, I must provide the opportunity for readers to interact with the artwork. I, therefore, show or share as publicly as possible to expose the work. The accompanying essays supply topical information to inspire viewer reaction.
Working through the intimacy of my family history punctuates the contemporaneity and personalizes the plight characterizing today's stake in local and international political violence fueled by racist discourses and waves of social amnesia. I work within a framework of actions to overcome resistances between the intimate, the art materials, and the external world.
I open a topic with photographic clues. Then I deepen the narrative by employing metaphor rather than literal storytelling. Authenticity, representation, and presence, in my view, belong to representational art. Mechanisms of abstraction enable me to generate discourse with anything that I am prohibited, or unable to directly access. Thus, I produce work within the genre of allegorical abstraction to convey silence, absence, and contradiction.
Please stay tuned for full image documentation of my thesis exhibition at the Vermont College of Fine Art, January 2016.
AFTERIMAGE | New Works Numbers 1-16
Hopkins Center for the Arts
March 22-April 22, 2018
Artist Talk, April 12, 2018
J. Wren Supak is a contemporary abstract expressionist—reviving an art form. Does she work in a historical style to resurrect the past?
This exhibition features non-representational portraiture. Supak uses abstraction to show non-verbal experience. These paintings give physical presence to memory, absence, even contradiction. They explore the intimacy of life, which includes the experience of death—a poignant event that lacks an explicit descriptive language.
Afterimage 1 (for Patricia), oil paint on canvas, 36’x24’, 2017.
Afterimage 2, oil paint & & mica, on canvas, 39’x 32’, 2017.
Afterimage 3 (Shirley’s Move), oil paint on canvas, 36’x 24’, 2017.
Afterimage 4 (Egress), oil paint on canvas, 60’ x 36’, 2017.
Afterimage 5 (Scerb), oil paint on canvas, 20”x20”, 2017.
Afterimage 6 (Where to?), oil paint on canvas, 48”x50”, 2017.
Afterimage 7 (Her skin I), oil paint on canvas, 42”x40”, 2017,
Afterimage 8, (Her skin II), oil paint & mica on canvas 42”x40”, 2017.
Afterimage 9 (Extrusion), oil paint & mica on canvas, 52”x48”, 2017,
Afterimage 10 (Alicia’s Lessons of Love), oil paint on canvas, 40”x42, 2017.
Afterimage 11 (Mine), oil, acrylic & mica paint on canvas, 42” x40”, 2017.
Afterimage 12 (His Skin I), oil paint & mica on canvas, 42”x40”, 2017.
Afterimage 13 (His Skin II), oil paint & mica on canvas, 42”x40”, 2017.
Afterimage 14 (mother?mother.), oil paint & mica on canvas, 40”x42”, 2017.
Afterimage 15 (Hanne’s Journey), oil paint & mica on canvas, 42”x40”, 2017.
Afterimage 16 (Toronto), oil paint on canvas, 40”x42”, 2017.
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Exhibited at Art Basel Miami 2014, This is a Roland Barthes, infused exploration of the relationship between the Photographer, the Subject and the Object, or, the, "Objectification of a Subject." in my words.
loss and hope. absence and presence.
Colorado, USA, 2012-13
The Hungarian Project, 2015, Artist in Residence, Hungarian Multicultural Center, Involves general and personal historical research concerning Jewish and Romani (Gypsy) migration narratives. This body of visual and written productivity accomplished through memory work and visual biography address my experienced and genetic past.
I will spend the month of June 2015 in Hungary as a guest of the Hungarian Multicultural Center doing an International Artists Residency. Part of my family are Hungarian and Russian; and Jewish and perhaps Roma (Gypsy) I believe that my time there will impart visceral information that I cannot learn from reading.
2015: These are combination pieces of abstracted photographs of details of paintings that I created. I printed photographs of the paintings onto canvas and mounted them on metal. The materials and tools of both the locations and the mediums are combined. Except for one thing: no Photoshop work in making the images. These red images look topographical or like the surface of something like skin, or pond scum because they are part of my Underpinnings project where I research personal and genetic history and figure out ways to represent my findings. I finished these after my residency in Budapest, Hungary. Each piece is 18x20", oil pastel, canvas on metal. 2015.
absence and presence
Subject: Personal and historical migration and memory.
Artist in Residence, Hungarian Multicultural Center, 2015
impotence inability to take effective action; helplessness: inability to communicate.
Curated by Robyn Awend Director of Visual Arts,
Sponsored by Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota
Tychman Shapiro Gallery
4330 S. Cedar Lake Road
Minneapolis, MN 55416
Exhibition information for: [Re]Telling
Title: First We Removed our Shoes
Media: Oil paint, mica powder, canvas, hollow core door.
Waves of social amnesia threaten to erase the memories of genocides including The Shoah. If that were not so, then we would not have an avowedly xenophobic American leadership. The reason for this includes, in parts, the whitewashing of history, embodied shame and fear, and the realities of what happened to be too excruciating to face. Some of our forebears tried to protect us from the horror stories by assimilation, or with silence. There must be many ways to retain these experiences as historical working knowledge to help current and future generations to be aware of what happens when we fail to continue to stand up for our liberties. Had I known as a young woman what I do now, I would have made several different choices. The current political regime reminds us that human rights, equitable treatment, natural law, though they are presumed innate, require that we actively fight for them, and when we cannot or are unable to, then such tragedies as genocide do recur, are recurring.
Zyklon B showers began by cruel deceptions— with slogans in several languages – “Clean is Good,”” Lice can kill,” “Wash Yourself, ” and the prisoners would first remove their shoes and then their clothing on the way to the showers. After their physical destruction, their murderers retained their shoes, why? The Song of Songs 7:2 reads, "How beautiful are thy feet in sandals." Shoes were considered to be so important that Rabbi Akiva instructed his son Joshua not to go barefoot. They were signs of sensuousness, comfort, luxury and pleasure.
The Talmud (Shabbat 129a): "A person should sell the roof beams of his house to buy shoes for his feet."
Perhaps the shoes were difficult to destroy? Or the Nazi’s wanted to recycle the leather? Whatever the reason, this one of untold numbers of humiliations enacted by Nazi’s, facilitated physical proof of some of their crimes. With knowledge comes responsibility and action.
About the artist: Wren is interested in using mechanisms of abstraction to allegorize narratives that resist verbal articulation. In most cases, she attempts to counter-monumentalize stories of violent oppression by eschewing depiction for non-representation. She studies the styles of post-WWII era American Abstract Expressionists; such as color field painters who signify shared history. Wren works as an artist and educator. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Art.