Week 29: Jen Herling
“The Connection is Real” (2016)
Jen Herling describes her work as being “influenced by the natural world around me, my inner world, and the perceived separation between the two.” She goes on to say “Thematically my work expresses feelings of isolation, loss, and grief balanced with innocence, hope, and strength. If art can make people feel less alone, and more united in our existence, I believe it is successful.”
I believe this description perfectly encapsulates her work.
Her work is reminiscent of one of my favorite films, Mirrormask, bearing the joint artistic efforts of Dave McKean (an Artist a Week post for another time) and Ian Miller. In it, there is the creeping darkness and whimsy a-la Tim Burton, as well.
These artists are known for their intenseness wrapped up in so-called child media, and it is true that there is a child-like quality to Herling’s art as well. The lines are almost better suited scrawled hidden on a wall in a back bedroom than on paper, a million cries for help and a million gently offered flowers.
The dense colors on lokta paper feel shadowed too, like the lights are dimmed and you’re being shown a special secret while the child artist clutches your hand with somber pride. (Considering Herling has been an artist for over 30 years, please understand that this description of ‘childlike’ is a compliment of her raw aesthetic than an insult of inexperience.)
The feelings of quiet hopefulness I get from looking at this art is like a particularly warm blanket while watching the cold rain streak a nearby window. There is melancholy, there is comfort, there is quiet solemness and simplicity in the moment. Herling’s art is not full of action and movement, but is instead the kind of pensive somberness that I enjoy injecting into an otherwise bright, colorful, and animated style gallery I typically enjoy.
We all need some quiet reflection anyway, don’t we?