2021 Grad Show

Jennifer Danvers

AUArts Grad Show IMG_5559 copy 2



I am a multi-disciplinary, text-based artist who works in large-scale installations. My practice is rooted in process and material-based methodologies. Consistent materials I use in my studio are varieties of ink, paper, and text. The flexibility of text allows me to use it as context while embedding it within the work to give it further dimension aesthetically and conceptually.

Life experiences and heritage have become predominant investigations within my practice. My ancestors were Doukhobors, they were hard-working people and good with their hands. I have inherited these traits. The execution of work is not just a means-to-an-end. Process and execution are expressions. I view the movement of my hands and body within my practice synonymous to maintaining a relationship where that movement is what connects me to my ancestors and my heritage. Recently, I have begun to view my practice not just as a physical practice but as something intangible. Searching and asking questions are materials within my practice. I have come to connect process to ideals of home. It is the seeking that drives my practice and I am continuing to investigate how that constant search is connected to my heritage. I am beginning to understand what that movement of searching really means to me: it is my looking for “home”, or the feeling of “home” which has a specific narrative within my historical past. My ancestors were forced into movement. They came to Canada to flee persecution and settle on a land they could cultivate in peace. A land which did not belong to the Canadian government to give, and one which was not granted to them in the end. I am the result of assimilated bodies amongst Canada’s historical landscape and I can say that my practice unfolds in that continued search for home. For me, home is felt through movement and the cultivation of materials from one thing into another. That is the root of my practice. Recently, I have begun to use the imagery of the matryoshka doll to explore and understand how historical bodies fit and move within colonial environments.

The M Series

"The M Series" is a collection of drawings that appropriates the imagery of the matryoshka doll. Removed from its body, the head of the doll acts as a shield to absorb and deflect the gaze of the audience. As a matryoshka doll, the figure is free to explore her environment and space through the body to further feel and understand how various dynamics can support and influence environments. The doll’s movement is a way to connect her body with her mind. It is a way to understand one’s environment, history, and contemporary settings through a body that contains historical, generational memory that has been disassociated from the mind through colonial assimilation.

A [Doukhobor] Way of Life [?]

This work is negotiating family heritage. Recycled materials and layered images with text conveys the dynamics and conditions a historical body remembers instinctively in contrast to its contemporary setting. A historical way of body-knowing based on ancestor’s experiences, the colonial system that interrupted those experiences, and the realization that the perspective does not comply with that of a colonial lens. I am creating a horizon within my studio, one which acknowledges the past while working towards a future that negotiates how to bring the heritage of an oral tradition into the 21st century.

Gr nf rks BC

This work is a landscape of 7615 Boundary Dr in Grand Forks BC. It’s a collage assembled by memory. I have spent this semester looking at how one historical image can contribute to fragmented experiences through generations. This work is looking at a lived experience that has been fragmented over time. This work is taking previous works considering that historical photograph, and using those fragments to construct an environment that has felt the closest to home. Included in the drawing is the most memorable parts of the exterior of the represented environment. Also included is how elusive memory can be when moments which span years blend into one, or how memory will misplace objects and can shift representation.

House on Fire...

"The house is on fire [it was like that when we got here]…" is a studio research project. The title for the documentation of archival traces, process, materials, and manipulation within my studio practice has a two-fold meaning. "The house is on fire..." is in reference to extreme Doukhobor modes of protest. One catalyst for the Doukhobor emigration was a fire which consumed their arms for battle, making them useless as a body of war – how could they fight for the czar if they had nothing to fight with? It is also a word-play on a government house, on a change of word after the Doukhobors immigrated and the Canadian government enforced land-reclamations as the(/some) Doukhobor’s refused to pledge allegiance to the queen.

M Series #2 (The Weird Sisters)

This triptych is a drawing installation of three matryoshka dolls interacting with the boundaries of the paper which contains them. The context and visualization of the text informs, and influences, the shape and movement of the figures. The narrative is a limited third person POV which establishes the reality within the work. The dolls support, contradict, and visualize the impact of representations of that narrative on the body. Each lady embodies and rejects the logic of the boundaries enforced upon them. (This work was made and submitted for consideration to the BMO 1st ART! 2021 Invitational Student Art Competition.)

Matryoshka Doll Series

The Matryoshka Doll Series are drawings which negotiates body in place. Growing up, the one object I remember seeing and associating with my family history was the matryoshka doll. The Matryoshka Doll Series is an ongoing investigation of the physicality, narrative, and layers that compose Russian nesting dolls.

Matryoshka Sketches

These are concept drawings that shifted the artist away from the traditional representations of the matryoshka doll.

The house is like a body...

This work is a research project considering the influence of heritage and environment on behaviours and upbringings as the viewer attempts to navigate themselves through a virtual landscape that never fully materializes into tangible entities. It was through this project that I began to consider alternative ways that home can exist for a person. It was here that I began to understand that, for me, the idea of home exists within movement, adaptation, and resilience - attributes that were developed by my ancestors out of necessity and passed on through generations. These connections were not made until the sale of my grandmother’s house was finalized and I realized I was grieving for that feeling of home that her space provided.

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