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 have been then presently 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 by August 27 (link to a NY Times review of this present)

After trying extra carefully on the on-line photos 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 electronic mail interview.

I used to be intrigued by how she advanced from her earlier involvement with direct portray from nature to her current abstracted landscapes. Her newest massive oil work appear to take inspiration from the spirit of such painters as Joan Mitchell, who said in 1958, “I paint from remembered landscapes that I carry with me—and remembered emotions of them, which after all develop into remodeled. I may definitely by no means mirror nature. I would really like extra to color what it leaves me with.” The late Thomas Nozkowski’s work may come to thoughts along with his painted response to particular recollections of locations, issues, and experiences, reworking these recollections 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 isn’t solely depicting imagery, however by art-making, the artist can be producing perceivable slivers of the cosmos. Within the artist’s personal phrases: “My work are like light folds within the cloth of the cosmos, which is pressed up towards itself and senses itself in two locations directly. Very similar to once 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 inside capability for name and response and acutely aware resonance.”

Jeane Cohen is an artist based mostly 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 have been your early years like? Have been you given a number of assist for art-making as a baby?

Jeane Cohen: My household inspired me to make artwork and be messy. I had a number 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 arms have been busy on a regular basis. In kindergarten my instructor advised me I spent an excessive amount of time on the drawing desk and wanted to department out into different instructional actions. I’ve all the time had a robust artist drive that places me within the studio day by day. And I’ve been so fortunate to have labored with wonderful artwork lecturers. I had my first oil portray lesson once I was 12. After 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 method to your work and material?

Jeane Cohen: Hampshire was nice as a result of I may assume creatively throughout disciplines and the curriculum is concentrated on self-directed interdisciplinary examine. You’ll be able to actually examine no matter you have an interest in at Hampshire, and your final 12 months is devoted to an enormous mission. Certainly one of my pals designed and constructed a automotive and one other pal studied how zoning legal guidelines impression registered intercourse offenders. In my final 12 months, I illustrated a wordless visible graphic novel integrating psychoanalytic concepts right into a story about therapeutic and neighborhood. At Hampshire, there’s a robust 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 wish to be a transformational individual on this 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, equivalent to many Mural Arts Initiatives in Philadelphia, as a Lead Therapeutic Instructing Artist, the Porch Mild Wellness initiative, the place you labored on a sequence of participatory accordion books about emotional wellness and in addition 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 dropped at 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 persistent psychological diseases equivalent 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 individuals, 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 obtained 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. Ultimately, spending time with individuals 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 rather a lot concerning the custom of picture making, portray particularly, and what our eyes and minds are able to spatially. I really didn’t know a lot about artwork historical past earlier than I obtained to grad faculty. I simply knew that I wanted to color and wished to get higher. My lecturers have been wonderful. I labored with so many individuals who every had a special perspective about portray, however all inspired me to remain true to myself. SAIC is cool in that means, they get into no matter you’re into after which they present you the right way to do what you’re into at high notch.

LG: I’ve heard that many MFA applications at this time, equivalent 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 observe than was frequent in earlier instances. When faculties 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 art work. What is perhaps your tackle this topic?

Jeane Cohen: My expertise was that the curriculum was geared in direction of studio time and concepts have been mentioned within the service of constructing, not within the service of idea, though idea would come up in dialog. Moderately than feeling a dissonance between idea and making, I noticed that the 2 could be synonymous. Even should you 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 really leaves you susceptible to concepts and biases you will have by no means thought of earlier than.

This has stayed with me as part of my present observe. 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 which means. General at SAIC, I felt very inspired to color my means by obstacles within the observe after which take into consideration the which means of it later. And my relationship to wall textual content is that I’m open to it, however actually I’d fairly simply be with the artwork.

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

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

Jeane Cohen: That’s really my drawing! I did a self-portrait as part of her Thoughts’s I mission during which everybody contributed a self-portrait. It’s humorous you convey that up, although as a result of at one level through the mission I drew right into a discarded self-portrait that Anne had finished of herself, and tried to complete it for her. I feel I used to be engaged on her eyes and hair. It regarded 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 in addition with Stanley Lewis, who was there on the time. That summer time actually obtained 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 may see proper by me. It was unusual. In the course of the course, he gave me some recommendation concerning the work I used to be making, however largely he taught me by conversations and concepts. I gave a lecture on panorama whereas I used to be in Italy and I bear in mind he obtained up and left in the course of it as a result of he felt prefer it was too performative. Trying again, he in all probability had some extent. Dan will inform you to your face precisely what he thinks about what you’re doing, which isn’t all the time comfy however is real suggestions.

Stanley, alternatively, taught me the right way to combine a shade from statement. I’d paint close to him, and he would come over to verify 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 course of making his work after all. I suppose he’d want a break and are available be sure that the individuals round him may no less than combine their colours proper.

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

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

LG: I perceive that you just have been an out of doors panorama painter for a time. What led you to develop into extra of a studio painter? How a lot does your prior expertise with observational portray affect the way you paint at this time?

Jeane Cohen: Sure, in graduate faculty, there was a interval the place I used to be portray nearly solely 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, images and creativeness. I didn’t know why, however on reflection, I feel I used to be studying the patterns of nature by image-making. I grew to become extra within the patterns of gestures and invention than attempting to get the precise shade of the sky I used to be taking a look at. I nonetheless rely closely on statement as a core part of my observe. 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 “Inventive Group,” a foundational precept of visible dynamics which are usually missed in art work evaluation. You said, “Inventive 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 by the medium of their art work.” I’m curious to listen to extra about this. Is that this essay accessible someplace to learn?

Jeane Cohen: I’ve checked out a number of artists’ work depicting the habits of nature, whether or not it’s illusionistic or summary. I began to consider the way in which they select to prepare their photos of nature, which any panorama painter is aware of entails organizing an infinite vary of relationships. I noticed totally different points of nature are prioritized by totally different artists. For instance, I feel camouflage is a big a part of Xylor Jane’s work, although she isn’t portray strolling sticks. Her work are likely to exude visceral experiences of nature, fairly than illusionistic experiences of nature, as Claire Sherman’s work does, for instance. I’ve written about 4 artists on this essay and wish to lengthen it to incorporate a number of extra earlier than I’d contemplate publishing it. However I’m undecided 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 modern artists curiosity or affect you essentially the most?

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

Since I’ve been in Maine, I’ve spent a number of time with the work of Reggie Burrows Hodges and Kathy Bradford, who each have exhibitions up now. Kathy’s work are good to have a look at for serious about people who find themselves continually reinventing themselves. Her worlds are each alluring with vibrant colours and gestures, in addition to scary, as figures are entangled and sure 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 will have 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 shade, picture, feeling or style of portray I wish to make, and I construct from there. My course of may be very experimental, and I attempt to be open to new concepts and turns in my trajectory as I start the work. Generally my unique concept strains up with the top results of the portray. Continuously I am going by many concepts, usually making a number of work on high of one another earlier than I land on a very good one. I stumble round rather a lot as I’m making, not likely understanding the place issues are headed, or considering I do know after which realizing there’s something extra attention-grabbing happening within the portray that I wish to work with. Most of my finest work are made once I’m within the throes of feeling I is perhaps onto one thing, but being blind to it within the second.

We Have 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 Have 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, doubtless painted with enormous, drippy fully-loaded brushes and offers a special, 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 undecided I’ll proceed with this fashion of constructing in my observe, but it surely has been helpful to see what this course of can convey. I began with the gradual work as a result of I wanted a break from making quick work, which I had finished just about continuous for the previous couple years. In 2020 and 2021 I revamped 200 work at a fast tempo, so I wanted to gradual issues down. Gradual isn’t my pure method 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 fairly than leaving all the pieces to my hand. Now that I’ve a stronger eye for my work, I can convey that again to the opposite work.

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

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

Fates, 60x72in.oiloncanvas.2020

LG: There appears to be a number of recurring imagery in your work. You usually embody animals and birds, decorative backyard gates, stars, solar, fires, forests and extra. The place do these come from, and why would possibly they be essential for you?

Jeane Cohen: I really like the rhythms of nature, just like the moon and the tides. I like that nature is transformation and life and loss of life suddenly. In artwork individuals have phrases like cliche or traditional for artists who embrace nature. I favor 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 wish to perceive it higher, so I pay homage to nature by 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 ultimately, however there’s one thing to be stated for that liminal area on the fringe of nature. What’s that area like and is it just like the area on the fringe of a portray? It’s like asking the query, what’s on the fringe of the universe?

Night time Fisher, diptych 30in x 30in, oil on canvas, 2022

LG: I significantly loved your 2022 oil portray diptych, Night time Fisher . It jogs my memory of among 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 attention-grabbing level of reference. There’s a dappled positive-negative pulsing happening within the portray that’s just like Burchfield’s work. The place I could depart from Birchfield in a serious means is thru collage and hurling totally different occasions and spatial orientations into the portray suddenly, whereas nonetheless retaining some type of associative narrative, which on this case, is the place the title is available in. Like Burchfield is occupied with stretching one perspective so far as he can, and I’m occupied with making many factors of view relate. And the work are held collectively by a number of synonymous overlapping panorama occasions. I haven’t discovered what retains me within the style of panorama, however my finest guess for why panorama arises within the work again and again 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 means.

LG: Do you take heed to music when you paint? If that’s the case, is there specific music that works finest 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 will help free me as much as take dangers in portray. There’s not a selected style that works finest, I prefer it all. I simply have to work from one thing that sounds contemporary, and never the identical previous watered-down stuff, except it’s a extremely good pop tune, which is nice for large portray strikes. However yah, hip-hop, classical, folks, indie, jazz and many others. Truly these days I’ve been attempting to not take heed to music whereas I work so I can focus totally 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 observe.

LG: Talking of music, I see the place you latterly contributed album art work for the file, The Uproar in Bursts of Sound and Silence , which you stated was additionally known as Chook Songs for The Stars.

Jeane Cohen: Sure, I obtained to contribute the art work for this wonderful album! My pal, 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 Chook Songs for The Stars , so I made a canopy to suit that theme of a chook grazing the floor of the water and the celebrities reflecting from the night time sky. Truly, it’s humorous as a result of that portray can be known as Night time Fisher . It was the unique Night time Fisher and now there’s a second Night time Fisher portray. This occurs rather a lot in my observe. I find yourself having to retroactively title issues I and II and so forth.

LG: I perceive you presently 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 have been chosen out of 1500 candidates. Congratulations! That should be enormous for you. What ideas would possibly 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 full of 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 observe as a result of it’s been only for me. It’s saved me clear-headed concerning 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 a very good 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 learn about this property in Maine! I named the exhibits after a barely totally different spelling, Organon, which was a phrase I stumbled upon within the dictionary once I was attempting to call my exhibits . I used to be looking for a title that might 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 a very good match. Numerous my work is concerning the nature of thought, and every work within the present was a special instrument of thought.

LG: Sorry, I spaced on the spelling distinction – it simply appeared to suit together 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 would possibly you provide 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’re doing all the pieces for the mistaken causes. When you come to phrases together with your unrelenting have to make artwork or no matter it’s you do, then you possibly can concentrate on making that obsession come to life after which later begin to consider venues and recognition. The factor is, with a purpose to get the popularity you need to hold placing your self on the market a whole bunch and 1000’s of instances earlier than somebody would possibly take discover. And you need to take into account that success doesn’t essentially correlate to good artwork. You’ll be able to have success with out good artwork, and you’ll have good artwork with out success. So long as you perceive this, you’re being trustworthy with your self and staying aligned with what you will have 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 observe.
LG: The pleasure is all mine, thanks to your time and consideration in writing your considerate solutions.

Tears, 65x84in.oiloncanvas.2021