ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jenkins holds an MFA summa cum laude in Drawing and Painting from The University of North Texas, an MA summa cum laude in Drawing and Painting from Eastern Illinois University, and a BFA summa cum laude in Drawing and Painting with a second major in Studio Art from Illinois State University. Jenkins currently lives and works in Lancaster Texas. In conjunction with his art practice, Jenkins is also a certified sommelier with the Court of Master sommeliers and is a managing partner and director of beverage for two upcoming bar and restaurants in the Dallas metroplex. Jenkins had been exhibited in numerous group and solo shows and has been featured as one of the top 40 MFA candidates in the 2015 publication of New American paintings issue #117- MFA Annual. Jenkins maintains a prolific and multi-faceted art practice ranging in styles and sizes on paper, canvas, and panel. Jenkins is currently holds no representation.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
The paintings and drawings in the show are not really about anything or anywhere in particular, more so about the bliss and wonder of not having to be about some grandiose philosophy, and yet still feeling necessary. Despite my sentiments that this is somehow another beginning, I do feel a true confidence in trusting myself for the first time, and that is worth it.
I quote Proust because of the profundity I find in the ideas about discovery and seeing, both of which have become vital to me as functions of my journey up to this very point. Learning to see is not the same as looking. When you look at something, you label it and consume it with a quasi-static linearity; seeing is dynamic, encompassing the context of the periphery along with what is in focus. The periphery is where the true mystery and wonder is; it is an area of the unobtainable, the subconscious if you will, where decisions are more suggestions buried deep in impulse and emotion as opposed to the formal or intellectual.
In seeing (physically and intellectually) I discovered richness. There is freedom in not attempting to directly translate those things that fascinate me, which would almost always die in front of me without fail, but instead to allow for the greater plurality of possibilities by listening to what the art wanted to become. This is something I have only just realized, as well as the fact that my self-prescribed identity as an artist was merely relational to my ideas about the subject, history, and institutions of Art.
Consciousness is limited to some degree by identity; Identity is limited by ignorance. It is my experience that most people tend to identify themselves with fairly narrow categories: nationality, race, religion, vocation (artist), which leads not only to conflicts but also to a stunting of the imagination and potential. The wider our sense of identity, the more likely we will be able to experience a genuine connection to something larger than ourselves.
My process became a series of ups and downs that were predicated on my instincts towards my experiences of past, the present, and hypothetical future. Beyond that, it was like playing a game of chess and checkers simultaneously, one more about strategy while the other explosively energetic and direct. The marriage between a paced intellectual approach and a brash impulsiveness is a sweet spot, which I have come to fully embrace.
Einstein once remarked, “Problems can’t be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” To exist in the sweet spot for longer than a moment, required me to move into the problems presented by the paintings and drawings, or questions about what paintings and drawings could be, with all my intellectual furniture and live there for a while to understand how it is built and what exactly I am supposed to do with it. This is still fresh paint on the surface for me.
One of the greatest revelations that pushed my development immensely was the understanding that I don’t make art. The art builds itself, reveals itself through me. Cliché’ as it may seem, listening in the moment…a piece of blue here—a line there, pattern, thick, thin… etc., it is all pure wonder and whimsy not having a clue what comes next. Surprise is sweet sustenance.
The liberation from my own demands and expectations does not make me autonomous from decision-making. I still obsess over formal choices such as color, placement, figure and ground interactions--but now, these transformed from demands into the negotiations of my own visual language. The breadth of syntax I have developed is crucial to the ‘play’ of the game, and as it grows, more of the art and to a certain degree myself, can be explored, understood, and appreciated.
Previous to this discovery, there had always been disconnect between how I made art and how I spoke about it. I was at times, both knowingly and unknowingly defensive and still may be. I lacked the clarity of understanding that vulnerability trumps cleverness, much in the same way that seeing outlasts looking. The emphasis on appearance in art, as opposed to principles, takes away from the meaning and can disconnect us from understanding our experience with it. Vulnerability was a necessary principle for me to embrace; without it, the art I was making felt like a sugar rush that would crash hard and fast.
This brings me to the pieces in the show; all created for this exhibition, the paintings and drawings embody the philosophy lain out in this statement. They are an exploration of many ideas, feelings, memories, but not directly about anything as singularity. They are linked through me as their excavator, nurturer, as their confidant, but on the surface they are not about me. These are living spaces, present moments for anyone to participate in. The depth of discovery, or the extent of the journey within the pieces is left to the choices of the participants.
It is not my hope to convey any specific message, more so to open up the possibilities of awareness, which connect us as human beings in a shared experience. In allowing for this moment of vulnerability between people it is my hope that you whom have come to support me, are given more than a glimpse, but something of an invitation, into a world which isn’t entirely mine, but yours as well. I hope you find, as I have, the breadth of your own experiences somewhere in these pieces.
Thank you to those who have guided me along the way, to those who have broken me down and built me back up with your criticism, to those of you who are never quite sure what I am saying most of the time, and those who can empathize without needing a single word uttered, I appreciate you all and these works belong to you as much as they do me. We are all here, indulging in sweet nothings, in sweet nowhere and that is wonderful to me.