Homeward Bound: (Finding) Place and Identity in the Postmodern South by Jennifer McCohnell
December 29, 2022 – January 28, 2023
Opening Reception on Friday, January 6th; 5p-8p
Artist Talk on Saturday, Jan 21st; 11a
All artworks are for sale or available by commission
See the online gallery to purchase on the Bells Gallery website
Homeward Bound: (Finding) Place and Identity in the Postmodern South is an exploration of home. Using print, sculpture, and painting, artist Jennifer McCohnell utilizes multi-media practices to search for context and meaning. Is home a place or a feeling? Is it fixed or transient? How do our childhood memories and ancestral history impact our sense of home? While these questions are not unique or unfamiliar, they are critical enough for us to consider them again and again.
McCohnell finds herself bound to the physical and spiritual crux of home – melding the connections of the past and present through her environment and emotion to define it. In this exhibition, McCohnell revisits the places, people, and memories of her childhood as those experiences bind her to a territory in space and time that feels like home.
Homeward Bound rests at the intersection of place, memory, and identity encompassing the artist’s past, present, and future.
Jennifer McCohnell is a self-taught artist based in Dothan, Alabama. She grew up in a world defined by what has been traditionally called “woman’s work.” The aesthetics of Black southern culture, including food, quilting, mending, old cookbooks, and antique dishware, are central to her life and inform her art.
Her work has been exhibited in the Wiregrass Museum of Art and the Georgine Clarke Alabama Artists Gallery.
ARTIST STATEMENT on PROCESS
“My sculptural processes are generally spurred by a sudden idea or flash of inspiration. I make quick sketches followed by a series of more detailed drawings as an idea takes form. Then I begin the slow process of making. Whether in clay or fiber or mixed media, the act of making a sculpture for me is steeped in technique, exploration, and intuition. The work invariably deviates somewhat from the original concept, and I try to be attuned to those subtle shifts and let the process flow freely. Usually, this results in a piece of work that is faithful to the initial vision but also richer and more layered than I could have ever imagined.
As a painter, I am most interested in the expressive freedom that comes from abstract works, and I am guided by intuitive urges and personal emotions toward specific marks, colors, and relationships. The work develops based on what is on the easel and the palette, and I let the composition flow from there. Generally, I am drawn to a certain color when I first approach a blank sheet of paper. That begins the inspiration. Then, I make a mark or two or three. Or a scribble or scrawl. And then, I begin to layer and compose. I move away from the work and leave it alone and then return to it again as it requests and requires. I don’t have an end goal in mind, but I have found that the work tells you when it’s finished.”
2000 M.Ed., English Education, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
1993 B.A., English Literature, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
2021-present Teaching Artist, Wiregrass Museum of Art, Dothan, Alabama
2022 Intern Alabama State Council of the Arts, Montgomery, Alabama
2022 Creating with the Land; Georgine Clarke Gallery, Montgomery, Alabama
2022 Making Others See: Teaching Artists Exhibition; Wiregrass Museum of Art, Dothan, Alabama
2022 Printmaking group show Troy University; Wiregrass Museum of Art, Dothan, Alabama
FELLOWSHIPS & AWARDS
2022 John C. Campbell Folk School Kathryn Byrd Memorial Scholarship, Dye like a Shaker workshop, Brasstown, North Carolina
2022 Arrowmont School of Craft Scholarship Rivercane Basketry workshop, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
2022 Penland School of Crafts Scholarship Sculptural Basketry Plus workshop, Penland, North Carolina
2022 Sarah Carlisle Towery Alabama Artists Colony, painting workshop, Montgomery, Alabama
2016 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Landmarks of American History Summer Institute; Forever Wild, Cortland, NY
2015 Historic Ford Estates; Making of the Modern World: Political, Social and Economic Transformations, Grosse Pointe Shores and Dearborn, MI
2011 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute; Mark Twain and the Culture of Progress, Virginia City, NV, and Hartford, Connecticut
2013 Rediscovering Twain: Beyond Huck Finn and the Tall Tale; The Mark Twain Annual, vol. 11, 118-121. Penn State University Press