10 Questions with Jenny Day
Jenny Day (1981) is a painter who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She earned an MFA in Painting from the University of Arizona, a BFA in Painting from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz.
How many ways can one approach mourning? Jenny Day has tried to jest at it, deconstruct it, cover loss in trashy glamour and glitter, and reassemble it, so the source material is only hinted at—an assemblage of Instagram snippets and sad wry and sour jokes and heartbreak.
Still, loss cuts through everything. Jenny Day keeps trying to title paintings Failed Utopia. "Used that one already," her husband says, "or some variant of it. You want to name every painting." And (she considers it true*) it's true. California is omnipresent, a grounding, overlaid with other landscapes, Utah, Cambodian beaches, Dubai. Misplaced animals stand as totemic witnesses to a world eroded by an accumulation of insults, both large and small. And Jenny Day is letting go of the hope of ever seeing it any other way. Damaged landscapes, pulled apart, puzzled over, persevering with a litany of scars.
Painting as a protest when she has already admitted defeat. The good guys lost, it gets hotter every year, and Jenny Day will drive home from the opening in her SUV, V8 engine rumbling because it sometimes snows where she lives. Due to the difference, it would make. It could have been better than this. Jenny Day wants to say we've given up. Sometimes it feels like we never even tried.
Her exhibition record most recently includes Arte Laguna in Venice, Italy; Czong Institute for Contemporary Art in Korea; Phoenix Art Museum, Blue Star Contemporary Museum in San Antonio, TX, and Elmhurst Museum in Chicago, IL. An Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant supported day's work in 2018, a Contemporary Forum Artist Grant from the Phoenix Art Museum in 2017, a Barron Purchase Award in 2016, and through participation at Greenwich House Pottery, the Ucross Foundation, the Jentel Foundation, and the Playa Foundation For The Arts, among others. Jenny Day is represented by Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana, Davis Dominguez Gallery in Tucson, Arizona, and William Havu Gallery in Denver, Colorado.
Jenny Day, Welcome to Al-Tiba9. Could you tell us a little more about your background, and how did you begin creating art?
I grew up in California and studied Environmental Science at the University of California Santa Cruz. After that, I lived out of my truck in Maine and worked various jobs; farmer, landscaper, and hospice worker. I was restless, constantly moving, living in small cabins and yurts.
I did not take my creative pursuits seriously until I went to school for a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Alaska in 2005. I dabbled. I learned how to weld, make knives, and studied blacksmithing, printmaking, and sculpture. I was drawn to painting, but I avoided it. I eventually let myself paint and loved it. I worked full-time and went to school at night. Painting was all I wanted to do.
In 2014, I received my Masters of Fine Arts in Painting at the University of Arizona. The first year I painted over everything I made. I reexamined myself and my work, shaping it into something smarter, better. Graduate school situated my work in art history taught me to make informed decisions in my paintings, and the confidence to reject what was redundant in my work.
Currently, I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and am a full-time artist.
Could you tell our readers how you define yourself as an artist?
I am a painter, and I make mixed media paintings on canvas. My work examines the world through a lens of loss and humor. My paintings are informed by current events, environmental degradation, and politics. I paint damaged landscapes, pulled apart, puzzled over, persevering with a litany of scars.