Interview with Jeane Cohen – Portray Perceptions

Picture credit score: Felice Boucher

The painter Jeane Cohen not too long ago emailed me to inform me about her exhibitions that had been then at present on show in NYC, Three Women, a three-person show at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects and Waxing Glimmer,  Shedding Beams,  a solo exhibition at Slag Gallery that’s up via August 27 (link to a NY Times review of this present)

After trying extra carefully on the on-line pictures of her present’s present work and her earlier work from a number of years in the past on her web site – I made a decision to search out out extra about her and to do that e mail interview.

I used to be intrigued by how she advanced from her earlier involvement with direct portray from nature to her latest abstracted landscapes. Her newest massive oil work appear to take inspiration from the spirit of such painters as Joan Mitchell, who acknowledged in 1958, “I paint from remembered landscapes that I carry with me—and remembered emotions of them, which after all grow to be remodeled. I might definitely by no means mirror nature. I would love extra to color what it leaves me with.” The late Thomas Nozkowski’s work might come to thoughts along with his painted response to particular reminiscences of locations, issues, and experiences, remodeling these reminiscences with graphic symbols, patterns, and marks into his summary compositions.

Secret Backyard, 36in x 36in, oil on canvas, 2022

From the gallery press launch:

“Slag Gallery is happy to current Waxing Glimmer, Shedding Beams, Jeanne Cohen’s second solo exhibition at Slag & RX gallery.

“Cohen shouldn’t be solely depicting imagery, however via art-making, the artist can be producing perceivable slivers of the cosmos. Within the artist’s personal phrases: “My work are like mild folds within the material of the cosmos, which is pressed up towards itself and senses itself in two locations without delay. Very similar to after I place my hand on my coronary heart and have the simultaneous experiences of twoness and oneness, my work create sensory contact between minds. Every portray is sort of a shed pores and skin of my consciousness.”

Jeane Cohen’s work mirror the boomerang-like tendencies of nature, with an inner capability for name and response and acutely aware resonance.”

Jeane Cohen is an artist primarily based in New York Metropolis and Maine, and her many notable accomplishments embody A 2022 Pollock-Krasner Basis Grant and a 2022-2023 Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program Award. Cohen has proven her work all through the nation and overseas with 5 solo and thirty-four group exhibitions. She has acquired quite a few awards, grants, and residencies, together with the William & Dorothy Yeck Younger Painters Competitors, the Elizabeth Greenshields Basis Grant, and the Ox-Bow Faculty of Artwork Artists’ Residency. She acquired her MFA from the Faculty of the Artwork Institute of Chicago in 2018.

Larry Groff: What had been your early years like? Had been you given plenty of assist for art-making as a baby?

Jeane Cohen: My household inspired me to make artwork and be messy. I had plenty of alone time as a baby throughout which I made sculptures, illustrated story books and crafted imaginary worlds. I used to be an obsessive maker from an early age and my palms had been busy on a regular basis. In kindergarten my trainer instructed me I spent an excessive amount of time on the drawing desk and wanted to department out into different academic actions. I’ve all the time had a robust artist drive that places me within the studio on daily basis. And I’ve been so fortunate to have labored with superb artwork academics. I had my first oil portray lesson after I was 12. Once I was 16 I took a extra rigorous oil portray class and I principally haven’t stopped portray since then.

Tentatively Optimistic, 36in x 36in, oil on canvas, 2022

Blushing Pomes, 60in x 48in oil on canvas, 2021

LG: As a substitute of a typical artwork faculty, you selected to get your BA in Psychoanalysis and Visible Artwork at Hampshire School in Amherst. What was that like for you? What are you able to say about how your examine there has influenced your strategy to your work and material?

Jeane Cohen: Hampshire was nice as a result of I might suppose creatively throughout disciplines and the curriculum is targeted on self-directed interdisciplinary examine. You possibly can actually examine no matter you have an interest in at Hampshire, and your final yr is devoted to a giant mission. Certainly one of my pals designed and constructed a automotive and one other good friend studied how zoning legal guidelines affect registered intercourse offenders. In my final yr, I illustrated a wordless visible graphic novel integrating psychoanalytic concepts right into a story about therapeutic and neighborhood. At Hampshire, there’s a sturdy social justice focus, so most courses you’re taking will relate issues again to ethics, sustainability, and organizing. It’s nice since you be taught to need to be a transformational particular person on the planet, and it’s embedded into the curriculum.

LG: After graduating from Hampshire School, you labored as a Psychological Well being Counselor for a time. You then labored on varied artwork and remedy considerations, corresponding to many Mural Arts Initiatives in Philadelphia, as a Lead Therapeutic Educating Artist, the Porch Gentle Wellness initiative, the place you labored on a sequence of participatory accordion books about emotional wellness and likewise later labored on a Jail artwork mission. Are you able to say one thing about what this counseling and neighborhood service expertise was like for you and what, if something, has this delivered to your portray?

Jeane Cohen: That’s proper! I didn’t know I used to be going to pursue portray professionally. I believed I used to be going to color on the aspect and have one other profession. So for some time, I labored as a counselor and in neighborhood arts. Throughout my first job out of school, I labored with adults with power psychological diseases corresponding to schizophrenia and psychosis. These people had a really totally different day-to-day expertise of actuality than I did. It suited me as a result of I like connecting with folks, and we discovered loads of different issues to attach about. I ran an artwork group for some time when I labored there, and that ultimately received me going with murals and neighborhood artwork in Philly. However I used to be portray the entire time. At a sure level, I noticed I wasn’t getting paid a lot at any of those different jobs I’d labored and I’d remorse not going to graduate faculty to be taught extra about portray. Indirectly, spending time with folks and portray are like two sides of the identical coin. They’re each concerned with speaking one thing significant.

Gilt Ash, 2021 diptych 65in x 48in oil on canvas

Flower Crush, 2019, oil on canvas, 12in x 12in,

LG: You then attended the MFA program in Portray and Drawing on the Faculty of the Artwork Institute of Chicago. How was your expertise there?

Jeane Cohen: I discovered so much in regards to the custom of picture making, portray particularly, and what our eyes and minds are able to spatially. I truly didn’t know a lot about artwork historical past earlier than I received to grad faculty. I simply knew that I wanted to color and wished to get higher. My academics had been superb. I labored with so many individuals who every had a unique perspective about portray, however all inspired me to remain true to myself. SAIC is cool in that method, they get into no matter you’re into after which they present you how one can do what you’re into at high notch.

LG: I’ve heard that many MFA applications right now, corresponding to on the Artwork Institute, can place extra emphasis on the concepts behind making your artwork, like Vital Artwork Principle, and fewer concentrate on studio apply than was widespread in earlier instances. When colleges create this imbalance between speaking about artwork and making artwork, it upsets some historically skilled painters who focus extra on visible or formal, non-verbal points. I feel it’s honest to say they get out-of-sorts when the eye is extra on the wall label than on the paintings. What is perhaps your tackle this topic?

Jeane Cohen: My expertise was that the curriculum was geared in the direction of studio time and concepts had been mentioned within the service of constructing, not within the service of idea, though idea would come up in dialog. Fairly than feeling a dissonance between idea and making, I noticed that the 2 will be synonymous. Even if you happen to aren’t a conceptual artist, your work nonetheless has ideas and concepts. It was actually thrilling to find out about all of the underlying meanings in my work. And terrifying. Equally to psychoanalysis, I discovered that not serious about the implications of the work truly leaves you weak to concepts and biases you’ve got by no means thought-about earlier than.

This has stayed with me as part of my present apply. I’ve all the time been a deep thinker, so I used to be very relieved to get to a spot the place there was a broader dialog happening about that means. Total at SAIC, I felt very inspired to color my method via obstacles within the apply after which take into consideration the that means of it later. And my relationship to wall textual content is that I’m open to it, however actually I’d slightly simply be with the artwork.

Jeane Cohen, The Thoughts’s I; Ed Paschke Artwork Heart, 2017

LG: Google led me to a portrait of you by Anne Harris, I feel–on her web site. Did you examine along with her at SAIC?

Jeane Cohen: That’s truly my drawing! I did a self-portrait as part of her Thoughts’s I mission wherein everybody contributed a self-portrait. It’s humorous you deliver that up, although as a result of at one level through the mission I drew right into a discarded self-portrait that Anne had accomplished of herself, and tried to complete it for her. I feel I used to be engaged on her eyes and hair. It seemed favored her.

S.L. 42x 72 inches, oil on canvas, 2018

LG: Did you examine with Dan Gustin? I ask this due to your concentrate on panorama portray.

Jeane Cohen: I studied with Dan in Italy and likewise with Stanley Lewis, who was there on the time. That summer season actually received me going with panorama portray and serious about the connection between panorama area and cerebral-perceptual area. The primary time I spoke with Dan we talked for a very long time. I felt like he might see proper via me. It was unusual. Through the course, he gave me some recommendation in regards to the work I used to be making, however largely he taught me via conversations and concepts. I gave a lecture on panorama whereas I used to be in Italy and I bear in mind he received up and left in the midst of it as a result of he felt prefer it was too performative. Trying again, he in all probability had some extent. Dan will let you know to your face precisely what he thinks about what you might be doing, which isn’t all the time snug however is real suggestions.

Stanley, alternatively, taught me how one can combine a colour from remark. I’d paint close to him, and he would come over to examine what I used to be doing after which have me paint the entire thing over once more. He’d inform me to combine the colour of the sky and so I’d do it. Then he’d come again and blend it himself and present me how far off I used to be. This was all whereas he was in the midst of making his work after all. I suppose he’d want a break and are available ensure the folks round him might at the very least combine their colours proper.

Millennium Park, 36in x 120in diptych, oil on canvas, 2017

Backed Prairie, 32in x 42in, pastel on paper, 2017

LG: I perceive that you simply had been an outside panorama painter for a time. What led you to grow to be extra of a studio painter? How a lot does your prior expertise with observational portray affect the way you paint right now?

Jeane Cohen: Sure, in graduate faculty, there was a interval the place I used to be portray virtually completely outdoors. I used to be just about alone in considering it was a radical concept to make observational panorama work. I didn’t know what I used to be doing however I knew what I wanted to be doing. So at a sure level, I knew I wanted to return to the studio and work from reminiscence, pictures and creativeness. I didn’t know why, however on reflection, I feel I used to be studying the patterns of nature via image-making. I turned extra within the patterns of gestures and invention than making an attempt to get the precise colour of the sky I used to be . I nonetheless rely closely on remark as a core element of my apply. Now it’s extra balanced with different issues like working from the portray itself or departing from the noticed reference.

LG: In your Instagram pages from a while in the past, you talked about an essay you wrote known as “Artwork Types of Nature: How Artists Arrange Their Visible Depictions.” On this essay, you mentioned “Artistic Group,” a foundational precept of visible dynamics which are typically neglected in paintings evaluation. You acknowledged, “Artistic Group is analogous to Composition, however extra particularly, it conveys the actual ways in which the artist’s acutely aware and unconscious processes current an ontological perspective via the medium of their paintings.” I’m curious to listen to extra about this. Is that this essay accessible someplace to learn?

Jeane Cohen: I’ve checked out plenty of artists’ work depicting the conduct of nature, whether or not it’s illusionistic or summary. I began to consider the best way they select to prepare their pictures of nature, which any panorama painter is aware of entails organizing an infinite vary of relationships. I noticed totally different elements of nature are prioritized by totally different artists. For instance, I feel camouflage is a large a part of Xylor Jane’s work, although she isn’t portray strolling sticks. Her work are likely to exude visceral experiences of nature, slightly than illusionistic experiences of nature, as Claire Sherman’s work does, for instance. I’ve written about 4 artists on this essay and need to prolong it to incorporate a number of extra earlier than I’d take into account publishing it. However I’m unsure if I’ll return to it. I’m not an ontological or cultural historian, so I don’t but understand how these ideas would enter the general public sphere.

LG: What up to date artists curiosity or affect you probably the most?

Jeane Cohen: I by no means know what to say when people ask me this as a result of I actually bounce round with who I’m . If I must remind myself it’s OK to color something, I have a look at Albert Oehlen; If I must really feel soothed, I have a look at Joan Mitchell or Helen Frankenthaler. If I want an ass-kicking, I have a look at Katherine Bernhardt. I do have a look at each painter I can get my palms on, from Gregor Gleiwitz to Katherina Olschbaur.

Since I’ve been in Maine, I’ve spent plenty of time with the work of Reggie Burrows Hodges and Kathy Bradford, who each have exhibitions up now. Kathy’s work are good to take a look at for serious about people who find themselves always reinventing themselves. Her worlds are each alluring with vibrant colours and gestures, in addition to scary, as figures are entangled and certain collectively, consumed by the construction of the portray itself. Reggie’s work are cool in that they appear to elude themselves although the glowing marks on darkish grounds are mesmerizing. The work are there and never there.

LG: Inform us one thing about the way you go about making a portray. Do you’ve got some concept about what you need the image to be earlier than you begin, or is that one thing that comes from the portray course of?

Jeane Cohen: I begin with a colour, picture, feeling or style of portray I need to make, and I construct from there. My course of could be very experimental, and I attempt to be open to new concepts and turns in my trajectory as I start the work. Typically my unique concept traces up with the top results of the portray. Regularly I’m going via many concepts, typically making a number of work on high of one another earlier than I land on an excellent one. I stumble round so much as I’m making, not likely understanding the place issues are headed, or considering I do know after which realizing there’s something extra fascinating happening within the portray that I need to work with. Most of my greatest work are made after I’m within the throes of feeling I is perhaps onto one thing, but being blind to it within the second.

We Had been There Collectively, 60in x 48in oil on canvas, 2022

Sunbaked, 2021 oil on canvas 60in x 48in

Polar Strike, 60in x 72in, oil on linen, 2018

Brawny Flooring, 48in x 60in, oil on linen, 2018

LG: From what I can see on-line, your more moderen work, like We Had been There Collectively and Solar Baked appears to be painted slowly and constructed up with layers and masking. This appears a change out of your work of a few years in the past, the place the paint has extra broad gestural strokes, possible painted with large, drippy fully-loaded brushes and offers a unique, maybe extra emotional feeling to the composition.

Jeane Cohen: Sure, that’s proper. I’ve been deep into making a bunch of slower work within the final six months. I’m unsure I’ll proceed with this manner of constructing in my apply, nevertheless it has been helpful to see what this course of can deliver. I began with the sluggish work as a result of I wanted a break from making quick work, which I had accomplished just about continuous for the previous couple years. In 2020 and 2021 I revamped 2 hundred work at a fast tempo, so I wanted to sluggish issues down. Gradual shouldn’t be my pure solution to paint, however I additionally like throwing a wrench into my course of to see what occurs. Portray slowly lent itself to weaving work collectively and staring at them for a very long time earlier than making a transfer. It has allowed me to prioritize seeing within the work slightly than leaving all the pieces to my hand. Now that I’ve a stronger eye for my work, I can deliver that again to the opposite work.

LG: What are you able to say about how your portray course of has modified prior to now few years?

Jeane Cohen: I’ve welcomed extra imagery and collaged parts into the work. I maintain including new themes like animals or hearth. They come up within the work on their very own for probably the most half and I attempt to get out of the best way and make room for these shifts to occur. It’s vital to say that the arrival of those parts within the work isn’t about owls or horses. I imply in a method it’s as a result of that’s the topic, however for me the themes are placeholders for emotional experiences and totally different sorts of consciousness.

Fates, 60x72in.oiloncanvas.2020

LG: There appears to be plenty of recurring imagery in your work. You typically embody animals and birds, decorative backyard gates, stars, solar, fires, forests and extra. The place do these come from, and why may they be vital for you?

Jeane Cohen: I like the rhythms of nature, just like the moon and the tides. I like that nature is transformation and life and loss of life unexpectedly. In artwork folks have phrases like cliche or basic for artists who embrace nature. I want the phrase custom, and I settle for the custom of nature, although I don’t all the time prefer it. However I’m indebted to it, and I need to perceive it higher, so I pay homage to nature via portray forest fires and celestial skies sprinkled with animals. The decorative backyard gates are very contemporary for me. They in all probability level towards my curiosity within the peripheries of nature. Of course, it’s all nature in the long run, however there’s one thing to be mentioned for that liminal area on the fringe of nature. What’s that area like and is it much like the area on the fringe of a portray? It’s like asking the query, what’s on the fringe of the universe?

Evening Fisher, diptych 30in x 30in, oil on canvas, 2022

LG: I notably loved your 2022 oil portray diptych, Evening Fisher . It jogs my memory of a number of the extra enigmatic, mysterious later watercolors by Charles Burchfield. This portray appears to concurrently depict a forest, a subject of sunflowers, a seascape and maybe flying fish . Please inform us one thing about why and the way this portray was made.

Jeane Cohen: Charles Burchfield is an fascinating level of reference. There’s a dappled positive-negative pulsing happening within the portray that’s much like Burchfield’s work. The place I’ll depart from Birchfield in a significant method is thru collage and hurling totally different occasions and spatial orientations into the portray unexpectedly, whereas nonetheless retaining some type of associative narrative, which on this case, is the place the title is available in. Like Burchfield is fascinated about stretching one perspective so far as he can, and I’m fascinated about making many factors of view relate. And the work are held collectively by a number of synonymous overlapping panorama occasions. I haven’t found out what retains me within the style of panorama, however my greatest guess for why panorama arises within the work repeatedly is that it helps with orientation. I’m portray otherworldliness however I’m additionally nonetheless portray a world. I’m retaining it tied to human expertise and I feel it’s relatable in that method.

LG: Do you take heed to music when you paint? If that’s the case, is there explicit music that works greatest for you?

Jeane Cohen: I’ve nice admiration for musicians and sound as a result of it’s our primordial artwork kind, which precedes the visible and movement-based arts. It’s so basic and automated, listening may also help free me as much as take dangers in portray. There’s not a specific style that works greatest, I prefer it all. I simply must work from one thing that sounds contemporary, and never the identical outdated watered-down stuff, except it’s a very good pop music, which is nice for large portray strikes. However yah, hip-hop, classical, folks, indie, jazz and many others. Really these days I’ve been making an attempt to not take heed to music whereas I work so I can focus solely on the work. After a ten-day meditation retreat this winter I got here again to the studio and realized how distracting noise is to my apply.

LG: Talking of music, I see the place you lately contributed album paintings for the document, The Uproar in Bursts of Sound and Silence , which you mentioned was additionally known as Hen Songs for The Stars.

Jeane Cohen: Sure, I received to contribute the paintings for this superb album! My good friend, Evan Strauss, was engaged on this mission for a very long time and requested me if I want to make one thing for it. He’s a little bit of a mystic and the unique title was Hen Songs for The Stars , so I made a canopy to suit that theme of a chicken grazing the floor of the water and the celebs reflecting from the night time sky. Really, it’s humorous as a result of that portray can be known as Evening Fisher . It was the unique Evening Fisher and now there’s a second Evening Fisher portray. This occurs so much in my apply. I find yourself having to retroactively title issues I and II and so forth.

LG: I perceive you at present reside in Maine – however you only recently received a 2022 Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program award the place you get a year-long, rent-free studio in DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY, the place 17 artists had been chosen out of 1500 candidates. Congratulations! That have to be large for you. What ideas may you share about this new transfer?

Jeane Cohen: I really feel very lucky to have been awarded this residency and grateful for the chance to return to New York Metropolis, the place I had been residing in 2019. Throughout Covid I returned to Mid-Coast Maine, the place my household is from. Maine is so huge and crammed with plentiful nature that it’s each comforting to really feel so held and intimidating to really feel so small. The wind and the ocean and the forest are advantageous with or with out me, and so it has been actually good for my artist apply as a result of it’s been only for me. It’s stored me clear-headed in regards to the work I make. However I actually miss the depth and keenness of metropolis life, and I’ve in all probability been a bit too remoted in Maine, so this chance has come alongside at an excellent level for me.

Mountain, 35x44in.oiloncanavas.2021

Lifeblood, 60x48in.oiloncanvas.2021

LG: You had a few solo exhibitions in 2019, titled Orgonon I and Orgonon II, on the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, and the Miami College, Oxford, OH. I’m guessing your present’s title referred to Wilhelm Reich’s property in Maine known as Orgonon, the place he had labored on his Orgone Vitality Observatory and associated within the late 40s. What are you able to inform us about this exhibit?

Jeane Cohen: I didn’t find out about this property in Maine! I named the reveals after a barely totally different spelling, Organon, which was a phrase I stumbled upon within the dictionary after I was making an attempt to call my reveals . I used to be looking for a title that may convey my curiosity in nature, diversification, and concepts, so I went to the library the place they’ve a multi-volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary. Organon was near ‘natural’ and ‘organ’ on the web page. It’s outlined as a system of thought, organ, or instrument, so it was an excellent match. A whole lot of my work is in regards to the nature of thought, and every work within the present was a unique instrument of thought.

LG: Sorry, I spaced on the spelling distinction – it simply appeared to suit along with your material and your previous examine of inventive makes use of of psycho-analytic concepts at Hamshire School.

Sweep, Gown, Hew 2021 oil on canvas 60in x 48in

LG: What recommendation may you supply aspiring younger painters who hope to get recognition, advance their careers and present their work in higher venues?

Jeane Cohen: Nothing revelatory. I feel it’s all within the service of the work. That has to return first, and all the pieces else must be to assist the work. In any other case, you might be doing all the pieces for the fallacious causes. When you come to phrases along with your unrelenting must make artwork or no matter it’s you do, then you may concentrate on making that obsession come to life after which later begin to consider venues and recognition. The factor is, as a way to get the popularity it’s a must to maintain placing your self on the market tons of and hundreds of instances earlier than somebody may take discover. And it’s a must to needless to say success doesn’t essentially correlate to good artwork. You possibly can have success with out good artwork, and you’ll have good artwork with out success. So long as you perceive this, you might be being sincere with your self and staying aligned with what you’ve got got down to do within the first place, which is to make the work.

Larry, thanks for this interview. It’s good to have a chance to mirror on and converse in-depth about my life and apply.
LG: The pleasure is all mine, thanks on your time and consideration in writing your considerate solutions.

Tears, 65x84in.oiloncanvas.2021