Jennifer Pazienza – New Brunswick
"Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the earth" are lines from a Rumi poem, a perspective on art and life that for me, has been long in the making. The introduction to my lifelong relationship with the beautiful I owe to my short-lived life with my mother.
The critical questions I pose, in my work, are informed by contemporary discourse on landscape, beauty and justice. With James Elkins, I ask "Whether or not landscape painting can still be practiced by people seriously engaged with the history of art, or if landscape has to find expression in various local and regional contexts?" I ask how landscape as ideology, the political-or landscape as phenomenology, resides in my work? How do my paintings unearth or bury over the substrata of power relations generally, and in contemporary art criticism particularly? How are they paradigmatic of my own artistic formation? How do the paintings construct, carry, convey, and call forth landscape as myth and memory, the spiritual and aesthetic, the beautiful and the sublime? Elaine Scarry gives voice to my experience that beauty compels what she calls "replication, a begetting, the means by which we renew our search for truth and our concern for justice." I navigate landscape articulations within the creative tension between landscape understood as Dennis Cosgrove describes, "an unalienated, insider's apprehension of the land: of nature and the sense of place, together with a more critical, socially conscious, outsider's perspective, a landscape way of seeing where landscapes are interpreted symbolically while maintaining respect for the everyday experience of landscape as the setting for life and work" and as Martin Buber might have said, where landscape is "primally alien both outside and inside you. You perceive it and take it for your "truth"; it permits itself to be taken by you, but it does not give itself to you."