Weekly Interview #10 - Jen Ray

Tell us about yourself and your work.

I create large-scale paper works featuring Amazonian women in dystopian landscapes. That's the short version. I also create performances based on the drawings and occasionally make sculptural works and video which is shown in conjunction with the performances. 

The works are focused on women who exhibit "bad behavior". They are rebels and revolutionaries making their own world on top of the ruins of other worlds. There is always a building up and a pulling down. And always wreckage of some sort, representing a smashing of the old order.

What got you started? What keeps you in?

There was never a time when I wasn't drawing. The first money I earned making art, I spent on a doll that had half blond hair and half black. You could spin the hair around from the top of her head. That must have some symbolic significance. I was also heavily encouraged by my mother to make art. She is an artist herself. 

I "stay in" so to speak because it's such a part of my identity. I've done a wide variety of things in life but art is the constant.
What/who inspires you? In what way?

Berlin, "The Hunger", Roxy Music, The Symbolists, The Green Vault, Japan, Silent film, weaponry, The Runaways, Led Zeppelin, Mysticism, failure.

And there are a million more things but the aforementioned are pretty big. Especially Japanese art. I am constantly inspired and excited by the aesthetics of the Japanese. 
What is art for you? Examples of "real art"? 

My favorite painting as a kid was Fragonard's "The Swing". The greens, The pinks, that velvet swing with the ropes. I even visited it in London at the Wallace Collection. 

I love Hiroshige. I've always hated Renoir. I love Greek Attic vases right now. Manet's "Olympia".

I didn't see any "real art" until I was practically an adult. All my info came from an art history book that my father happened to have had around from his college classes. I really soaked up that book.  

The most powerful/your favourite medium: picture, words, sounds? Anything else?

Reading is the ultimate for me. Music is fine but I don't need it like other people need it. I was raised on the Beatles and I take them for granted. They seem like family relations that sing.

Plans for future (of your work)?

World domination! My figures take control and run rampant.

I would love to conduct a synchronized, Busby Berkeley style dance number sometime in the near future. At the end of the performance everything goes up in flames.
Anything you'd like to add? Maybe a song, a picture, hello to friends and family?

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