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Meet Jenny Hager in West Adams

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenny Hager.

Jenny, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’d always been an artistically inclined child, living in a fantasy world, forever drawing. In an effort to feel less like the odd art teen (it wasn’t that cool in the eighties in Bloomfield Hills), I abandoned drawing and art classes in pursuit of boys and soccer. However, once in college (Knox College in Galesburg, IL), I took a life drawing class, found my community of like minded students, and never looked back. I moved from the Midwest to New York City to attend the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture for two years, immersing myself in the city and it’s culture. I continued with my academic path and received my MFA from Penn School of Design. After a visiting professor position in the Midwest, I moved to Los Angeles to continue my urban adventures. I have painted consistently since 1999, developing my body of work and exhibiting nationally and internationally. Studio time is something that I value as an absolute gift, but also my job. I have to remind myself to play at times, but even when the painting is difficult, my level of engagement is high. I also have to remind myself to get out of the studio and connect with the larger community.

Has it been a smooth road?
Like anyone, I have had my share of challenges, some typical, and some not. I went through a very tough several of years that coincided, unfortunately, with grad school and the first few years after, with some lasting effects that absorbed much of my time, energy, and money. I was diagnosed with a disease, I nursed a boyfriend through cancer (he is healthy today) and then, I was assaulted. My first year of graduate school, I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, a particularly nasty disease. It gave me extreme chronic fatigue and sore joints. I had a cot in my studio so I could nap, and I kept myself very busy because I felt awful regardless of what I was doing. Fortunately, I went into remission three years later, and it has not returned.

I do not normally share publicly that I was assaulted (though I have always been open about it), but in today’s climate, I feel that by sharing my experience, it is one more voice of exposure to a societal problem at large. I have a teenage son, he listens to the news, we talk about it, and we are only going to solve this problem if we raise good men.

Fortunately, this time period was not all trauma. I did manage to win a Joan Mitchell Grant Foundation and was hired by Knox College, Santa Monica College, and West Los Angeles College. I had quite a bit of fun as well along the way.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Jenny Hager story. Tell us more about the business.
I’m a fine art painter and I specialize in abstraction that emphasizes bold, geometric patterns or structures, juxtaposed against more organic, expressionistic passages or forms. I’m known for having a high key palette that trends towards fluorescents. I favor fluorescents because they are found in nature in a sunset or sunrise, but also as a sign of poison in the animal kingdom. Beauty and danger. I’m painting within a tradition of abstraction that deals with a high degree of ambiguity, and hope that I transcend pure formalism. I liken it to drifting on the double-edged sword of wonder.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
It’s hard to say where I see the art industry going over the next 5-10 years. I have noticed a troubling trend of excellent mid-level galleries closing due to lack of sales as of late. The art industry is not one monolithic entity, and fortunately has many communities and many ways of participating, though it is very difficult to make it commercially. Artist-run spaces and collectives have a rich history and for a good reason. They allow artists to participate in thoughtful programming or exhibitions that are not driven by trends or sales. I am a member of the gallery Durden and Ray, and we have been pursuing and programming international exchanges, which has created an excellent network of artists and exhibition opportunities. I feel that we may see more of these (such as Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Monte Vista Projects, Post, Jaus, Noysky Projects, and the Pit, to name a few).

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jenny Hager

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1 Comment

  1. David Heard

    March 10, 2021 at 20:08

    Hello Jenny, I find your story impressive, and touching by your persistence at maintaining your career in the arts. I find your paintings wonderful where they are vibrant in their expressions, it is a kind of freedom that shows curiosity.

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