Prelude (Variation), 2020
Introducing Jennie Mejan, North Carolina, US Collagist
/DRI:M/SPACE is pleased to spotlight Jennie aka @jenniekata, an artist based in North Carolina, US. I first discovered Jennie's work through the Paris Collage Collective's weekly challenges and was immediately struck by her digital creations. Her aesthetic is dreamily feminine and exudes romantic, Victorian vibes.
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From the Collagist:
Until recently my work has been all digital, but I'm currently exploring analog collage, as well. My style is strongly influenced by my being reared on fairy tales and the way imagination and reality grew to work together for me.
I’ve been teaching myself Photoshop for about 20 years now and use it to make my digital collage. My digital work features women who evoke longing and wistfulness. They are usually placed against backdrops just outside reality... my way of asserting imagination’s role in life. To me these works reflect the discomfort of isolation and how your self-concept can be a trap. They’re also about a desire to show your colors, be known and understood. Making and sharing these images has had incredible value for me. I love how art allows you to skip small talk with the viewer and goes straight to the depths.
For my paper collage I use vintage ephemera (mostly Life magazines at the moment) and art books. There’s been a coincidental shift in theme in moving from digital to paper. Besides plenty of practice pieces, I’m working through a theme of unrest... the idea of your intimate space, ‘home’, being a little autoimmune and not a place of comfort and rejuvenation.
It is my goal to bring a sense of honesty and vulnerability to each collage. It is important to me that I've injected them with something beyond aesthetics to offer the viewer. I know a collage is finished because there is a resonance and I often get a little lost in the piece, reading it and getting pleasure from what it can now say on its own.
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Jennie's Studio & Process, Self-Portrait, May Art Sale
Mejan, who is a self-taught collage artist writes, "My collage work is a culmination of skills garnered from previous forays into poetry, photography, and graphic design. My best spare time is spent somewhere on a rock near a moving body of water."
You can see the apex of Jennie's skills put to work in her digital collage "Odd Gift" where she combines and layers varying paper textures, colours and imagery with a thought-provoking poem that made me gasp.
Odd Gift, 2021
Jennie writes, "I distance my self from my body in this poem to point out the way bodies (and other things) can obscure who we truly are. There is so much judgement and subjectivity in the way we view each others' physicality. It's just one of the social barriers that can end up distorting our 'light'.
In the collage, I wanted to have the figure(s) tangled up in this misdirection... to be difficult to interpret. The notations on her back represent the social labels and statistics we accumulate. The naked, clinging aspect of her in the background is showing how this human condition is wearying. And the burning light is there, encased."
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Top Panel - Asking for the Moon, 2021 / Beast Within, 2021 / Privately, I, 2021
Bottom Panel - Zebra, 2021 / Dissection of a Childhood, 2020
Pure gorgeousness! Honestly, words truly do fail me... Jennie's masterful creations are a visual feast. And, she nails it every time with her soft, richly coloured palette and lush narratives. Jennie, I see a tarot deck in your future!
What can I say? I adore Jennie's work. She's a prolific collagist who has won the hearts of many. I'm looking forward to seeing her grow as an artist as she continues to experiment with the collage medium, whether that be digital, cut&paste, or hybrid!
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Top Panel - Untitled, 2020 / Untitled, 2020 / Skinnybooking, 2017
Bottom Panel - Finding Herself a Bride, 2020 / Untitled, 2020
Be sure to check out Jennie's links to learn more about the artist and her stunning collages. You can purchase prints and originals at her website, as well. Jennie also produced a 6x6 photo book of 80 digital collages showcasing some of her best work (DM Jennie on Instagram for the deets). Check out the video below for a sneak-peek!
Q&A with the Artist:
/DRI:M/ARTZ: Many of your digital collages could pass for analogue—the not so precious way you layer your imagery,the roughed-up aspects, as if they were combined using differing paper textures and cut&pasted. I think that's quite an achievement! Do people think that your work is hand-cut initially or do they recognize that it is predominantly digital? While we are at it, what's your thoughts on digital vs analogue? Do you think one holds more value than the other especially when it comes to promoting and selling your work?
Jennie Mejan: Yes, I think I have confused a few people! Now that I work in both formats I label them. That hybrid look was born from falling more in love with analog over time and also from my roots in graphic design. I've wanted to try working with paper for a long time, but consider myself the opposite of crafty. I really didn't think I could pull it off. I finally braved it a couple of months ago and see that collage is very forgiving and meets you where you are.
Even though digital and analog are both collage, it is still a little apple-orange when you try to compare them. The skill set required with digital isn't called upon at all when working with paper. And digital doesn't have the depth and value that storied paper brings to a piece. They each bring different opportunities for expression. Working with paper is already irreplaceable to me. I'm addicted to the colors and softness of aged paper and how it cuts. I enjoy the problem-solving that starts with procuring the materials... the whole process feels like a puzzle.
Monetarily, you have no 'original' to sell with digital, but digital prints are easier to sell because they're cheaper. I just feel rich getting to choose between the two formats when I sit down to 'art' every night.
DA: You spoke about a shift in theme moving from digital to analogue work. Do you think this has something to do with the sheer accessibility of digital imagery and the ease of finding just the right mix to tell your personal story? With cut&paste you work with what's at hand (unless you are sourcing imagery to print out and have thought in advance what it is you want to create) so the stories that come through might be more broad/universal. Can you elaborate on this for us?
JM: I turn to digital when I want a lot of freedom to express because there are obviously so many more images to choose from and so much control. I control the mood and meaning in many ways... altering a figure’s posture sends a different message... my decision on the placement of a shadow speaks... so many of these minute things you manipulate come together to create the exact feeling you want to bring. It often feels like writing poetry.
That said, the more I work with paper, the more there is a bit of a hollow feeling when I finish a digital piece. They feel less ‘real’ to me than they used to. The process of telling my story with paper is so intense! There is the frantic search for that perfect image I know I saw in one of my magazines the other day (but which one!). And just the absorption of the task of making things fit and speak at the same time. This process is a tedious, but calm thing for me with digital. For some reason, with paper it requires most of my brain power to pull it off and the world really disappears.
DA: What can your fans look forward to this year and beyond? Any projects that you would like to share with us?
JM: I'm in learning mode as I continue shaking hands with paper, trying different things I've seen and liked as I find my way with it. I have my first show, a solo show in December, and I plan on trying to participate more with open calls and collabs, etc. No eye on beyond as of yet!
Check out Jennie's tune recommendation "The Same Deep Water As Me" performed by I Am Kloot. Enjoy!
Instagram | @jenniekata
Website | Jennie Mejan