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Cultivate Featured Artist: Jennifer Mannebach

The Cultivate Curatorial Board is excited to share the work of Jennifer Mannebach, work with mediums of paper, drafting film, paint, wood, glass, graphite-based in Chicago, IL.

Jennifer shares her work and process in our interview below.

Learn more about the Cultivate Featured artist series below.

Learn more about Jennifer on her:

Instagram @mannebach_art

Briefly describe your work or share your artist statement

​I work in fragmented forms that focus on the borders and edges of where things collect. My visual language often conflates the architecture of the interior body with broader views of world maps and constructed barriers, incorporating the intense chroma of colored gels used in microscopic visualization. I’ve been thinking about how we learn through mediated language, like visual maps or guideposts, when in turn these languages can dictate how the information is explored in the future. Visual representations of cellular boundaries, city maps that indicate specific zones, and illuminated manuscripts are all elements that are colliding in my studio in compelling ways. In addition to the languages these create, they imply scrutiny and surveillance, although there is always a looming tectonic shift.

Her Jaw Aches from Wanting. 2020. Paper, Paint, Wood, Mylar, Leather, Silk, Acrylic, 43 x 50”. Image Courtesy of Artist

How do you go about beginning a new piece? Do you have it planned or is it more spontaneous?

It is often an interplay between material studies and what I’m thinking or reading about…generally tied in some way to what has come before. I have had a studio practice for a long time, so sometimes things come up that are a more fully rounded version of something that was just a spark years ago, that perhaps now I’m more ready to tackle.

What is a barrier that you, as an artist, overcame?

Being a natural introvert has been somewhat of a hurdle. I’ve become better at mitigating this tendency over the last decade, but I’ve had to work on it. Teaching in various capacities has helped, and I’ve been motivated by the authentic connections I’ve been rewarded with when I do reach out.

Bivouac. 2022. Honeybee colony carrier, acrylic paint, wire, linoleum, plaster, ceramic frit on glass,9 x 16 x 6”.

Image Courtesy of Artist

What is your go-to music when you're working on art?

I don’t consistently listen to the same thing, although there are periods of time when I find the repetitive circulatory of Bach or Philip Glass to be helpful. Sometimes I listen to jazz as much of it reflects how my brain feels, whereas classical is more of a balm that helps me to keep going at times. I also have a sweet spot for Tom Waits who I discovered early in my undergrad just as I was discovering how to be in the studio. So that’s a nostalgic musical place for me.

Lately I’ve been liking Laura Marling, too.

What do you strive for as an artist? What form of recognition is important for you?

Recognizing my own processes over a longer arc of time has been tremendously helpful, and I’m so satisfied when other people who have seen my work evolve also see those overarching patterns and call-backs. I’m thrilled when new viewers can recognize the connections, but also pull new threads I hadn’t considered. I don’t expect everyone to like or understand my work, but it does feel good when I have the respect of my peers.

Act As Usual. 2022. Drafting film, paper, graphite, acrylic paint, grommets, sand, 70 x 102”. Image Courtesy of Artist

What advice would you share for artists? Share something that you have learned along the way.

When I was an undergrad, I discovered a book about Eva Hesse that referenced her correspondence with Sol LeWitt. He basically told her to stop questioning and equivocating and just DO. (Everyone should have a friend like that!) After so many years, I still find it helpful to revisit this if I feel too much in my head and don’t want my fear or uncertainty to be paralyzing. Over quarantine, as I was hearing about friends who were disconnected from their usual studios and/or materials, I’ve considered how we become bound to specific materials and methods, perhaps too faithfully because we already know what they do. I tried to think about this as an opportunity to become more open to my impulsive gestures, closer to the spirit of play and inquiry-driven practice.

What is a work of art that is an inspiration to you?

It’s difficult to find one example of inspiration, but I can describe an experience I had as a very young artist. I remember negotiating my immediate responses to two distinct artworks. I was confronted with a large-scale Anselm Kiefer painting that used materials in a way I had never seen before. I understood something about the weight of physical materials suggesting the weight of history, and the visceral messiness overwhelming the faint narrative elements.

In the same museum, I turned to look at a piece by Buzz Spector. I was enthralled with the concise manner of making, the crisp angles creating formal shapes but maintaining their identity as books. The whiplash I experienced gave me pause. What is wrong with me? How am I equally drawn to both artists with such different sensibilities? I came to a more nuanced understanding of the complex relationships between maker and material as I grew up.

Today I’m inspired by patterns and behavior I see in my beehives, how people move across emotional and physical boundaries, as well as diagrams of how the human body works on a molecular level.

Hold.2022. Ceramic frit on glass, 12 x 12”. Image Courtesy of Image

Who are three working artists that you love and would recommend?

Tanya Gill, Mie Kongo and Yoonshin Park are three Chicago artists who I admire in terms of sensitivity to materials and work ethic. They all seem to be acutely aware of how small altercations can shift things substantially. Recently I was so pleased to discover the work of Igshaan Adams for the first time at the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a South African artist whose work Desire Lines addresses issues surrounding a multi-faceted identity with literal and metaphysical pathways through incredibly tactile, labor-intensive forms that create these fragmented yet cohesive environments.

A Seam, a Tear, an Opening .2020. Digital image printed on polyester film 108 x 219”. Image Courtesy of Artist


Cultivate Artists

A curated collection of emerging and midcareer artists. The featured artist program at Cultivate serves to share the artist's work and process with the community, inviting them to understand how and why an artist creates the work they do, to market and promote artists, and to connect artists to each other and to our network of curators, artists, and gallery owners.

These artists are curated together and represent the work that we exhibit at Cultivate. The artists are selected in January and June, and scheduled out for the six-month period. If you are interested in being one of Cultivate featured artists, please visit our open call for submissions.

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