Meet the Artist…
|Name:||Jennifer Schermerhorn (2016 ODACA Artist)|
|Address:||15565 Settlers Rd.,
Wamego, KS 66547.
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I create figurative sculpture that explores the complexity of the female body and identity. I am particularly interested in varying states of domestication in both women and animals, and the relationship of humans with nature. I like working with the concept of dolls. Toys for teaching small girls how to care for others, dolls were traditionally sweet and placid female figures. There is usually no personality inherent in the toy itself. The art figures I create break that mold of doll domesticity and have identities of their own.
Domesticate is a word used often when discussing animals, and women. To domesticate is to take for one's own purpose, to make something more ordinary and familiar, to tame. I often incorporate unusual and very nondomesticated species of animals in my work. However, they are subjugated to work that demands extreme acceptance and would be challenging for even animals who have been domesticated for centuries. In contrast, the female figures in my work are rarely in a familiar or ordinary stance. Their movement is contorted and strong, confident and sometimes bold, pushing the limits of their bodies. Yet animal and human are often working together to create a visually pleasing form and movement. In my work, the state of domestication of women and animals, the relationship of humans and nature, the changing roles of women in society, culminate in a delicate balance.
Using needle felted wool to create my pieces helps me as artist connect to both the natural world and attempt to domesticate it. I take natural fibers, most often sheep's wool, and shape it with sharp, barbed needles. Wool in its natural state is springy and fluffy. By constantly poking at it, over and over, I tame it into the form that I wish to create, almost a form of domestication. Yet at the same time, I am taking something soft and yielding and giving it the ability to stand on its own and be it's own unique creation. The felting slowly complicates the wool's structure, leaving it with time, much more firm and strong then when it started.
A self taught artist, I grew up in the East. While staying home to raise my children, I began to explore the fiber arts. After moving to the midwest, I learned the simple technique of needle felting at a Kansas Alliance of Weavers and Spinners conference. Always nurturing a deep fascination with art dolls and mixed media work, I immediately began using wool and felting to create my own pieces. I currently live in an old farmhouse on the Kansas prairie, with my family and small flock of sheep.