Name: Jen Ferry
Studio location: My home in Wakefield. Visit jenferry.com to see my work or to contact me about making an appointment for a studio visit.
Current/upcoming exhibits: My last two shows were at the Warwick Center for the Arts. The 30th annual RI Open Juried Exhibit and the Art of Light Exhibit. I’m currently in the process of entering my work into the Providence Art Club’s Making Your Mark National Juried Exhibition.
What is your background? I have over 20 years of experience as a graphic designer at Boston and Providence advertising agencies. I have a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University and a degree in visual communications from Collins College. Most recently, I work as a freelance artist on a variety of projects from murals to teaching to web design.
Why create art? Painting started as a hobby for me 13 years ago. As a self-taught painter, I learned by trial and error. By experimenting with color, composition and texture I found that the more I did, the better I got. The better I became, the more self satisfaction there was in taking a blank canvas and creating something that is completely unique. Through this process I began to discover more about myself. As I developed, I learned to reach deeper inside myself and translate those feelings onto the canvas. However, the most intriguing thing to me is the mystery – I never know how a painting will turn out. That mystery keeps me coming back.
What is your preferred medium? Why? Acrylics because of their versatility. You can add water or medium to change the viscosity to have a more watercolor or impasto look to your paintings. Acrylics dry quickly making it faster to create multiple layers that add depth to a painting. Overall, I prefer acrylics because they are more forgiving than watercolors or oils in the way that mistakes can be easily fixed by quickly painting over an area.
How would you describe your work? Just as nature gives us the contrasting colors of flowers against their leaves or a morning fog casts a homogeneous tone, my paintings follow the same laws of nature. Amplified colors, textures and shapes define some of my acrylic paintings. Others have a monochromatic, subtle presentation. All of them show my interpretation of nature and the variety it represents.
What was the inspiration for a recent body of work? I draw inspiration from almost anything, but there is usually an underlying theme of nature in my work that comes from growing up in the Connecticut woods. I often feel immersed in the striking natural beauty of Connecticut. At every turn there are beautiful sights, smells and emotional connections I have to both the land and the people.
Whose work do you admire? Why? I think the artists that I most admire are my students at the Neighborhood Guild [in Peace Dale]. Whatever level they are at, from beginner to advanced, there’s always a self-consciousness about sharing your personal artwork in a group setting. I admire them for having the courage to expose that vulnerability.
If you could experiment in another medium, what would it be? Encaustic, which is a process that involves using heated beeswax to create art.
What is your dream project? To collaborate with other artists on a local public art project that would represent Wakefield’s uniqueness, promote the arts and enrich the community.
What do you do when you’re not making art? As president of Art League Rhode Island, I lead a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide opportunities for the growth and encouragement of artists. We represent more than 260 artists in 32 of Rhode Island’s cities and towns. We host exhibitions at Veterans Memorial Auditorium Gallery in Providence. Collaborations with other organizations, like the Newport Art Museum and the University of Rhode Island, help spread awareness by bringing art to diverse audiences. As an educational resource, we provide programs, modern salons, presentations, and workshops that engage the arts community.
What are you most proud of? Why? My advocacy in supporting the Rhode Island arts community. I have a lot of empathy for artists and their efforts to sell their work, market themselves and search for a community to belong to. There is a lot of satisfaction in taking on the responsibility of running an organization that provides those resources.
Do you have a favorite local art spot? Yes, a small section of the South County Bike Path right under the Route 1 overpass. It’s called Tunnel Gallery, the only spot in South County where graffiti is allowed and encouraged.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists? Keep your eyes open, observe, absorb and then express all your experiences in whatever way that makes you happy.