An interest in untying knots and solving puzzles helps printmaker Jen Coon to investigate complex processes and grapple with technical decisions. Resulting from her patience and problem-solving skills, she often arrives at questions in her printmaking practice such as "what if I change the order of printing the blocks on the page, color by color?” and "which tool do I use to carve this shape or edge to get the best print possible?"
Jen graduated from the State University of New York at Purchase with a BA in Fine Art. Early on, she gravitated to figurative painting and life drawing. She was first introduced to printmaking during a woodcut class at Purchase where she was most interested in the iterative process. Soon after, she delved into lithography, which, for many people evokes the directness of painting and drawing.
Post-college, Jen moved from Ossining, New York to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1987 and held her first studio space in 1990 at The Paper Plant, an active creative space in Raleigh. Friends dropped by her studio frequently, and she found herself in an evolving period of both producing and selling her work. She took printmaking classes at UNC-Chapel Hill and Penland School of Crafts during this time, after moving her studio to Raleigh’s popular Hillsborough Street. She joined the NC Printmakers Guild, an organization with which she exhibited her prints in colleges and art galleries of North Carolina until 2009.
Jen's lifelong interest in nature is evidenced throughout the many subjects and genres found in her works today. She muses that “the printed mark serves as a metaphor for the passage of time, an expression of haptic experience, and a relic of the temporal , every-changing world around us.” While tethered to observation, Jen's work explores the fluidity of social constructs such as gender, family, and national identity. Her New Circle series comes out of a recent personal experience with loss and transformation.
Jen lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her partner Sophie and their cat, Jester. Since 2008 she has worked at the North Carolina Museum of Art in the education and visitor experience departments. She exhibits her work locally in North Carolina and currently holds studio space at BLAM! in downtown Raleigh.
Image: Signature of the artist, Jen Coon
I use prints of the human body and common surfaces - wooden furniture, book covers, plastic wrap - to reference physical relationships between humans and the world. The printed mark serves as a metaphor for the passage of time, an expression of haptic experience, and a relic of the temporal world. Each impression has unique circumstances that, through printmaking, are repeatable; but I am more interested in iterations, and treat the proofing process as a dynamic exploration of skill, chance and intent.
My work explores, in representational and abstract language, the ideas of belonging and presence, expressing fluidity around social constructs such as gender, family, and national identity. The complex relationships we have with each other within the context of everyday activity are anchors in my work that provide rich meaning and, I hope, relatability. - Jen Coon