Heidi Jensen


Viewing our exhibits is free because of the generosity of Horicon Bank.

May 21, 2020 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Exhibition will be on display from May 21 – July 11, 2020

Opening Reception: Thursday, May 21, 6 – 8 pm

A curator-led tour will begin at 6:30 pm exploring the current art exhibitions.

Free admission and open to the public, meet the artist as you view her work. Cash bar and snacks available.

Artist’s Exchange: Stay tuned for time and date!

Free admission and exclusive for THELMA members, listen to a Q&A talk and learn about her process, inspiration, and execution of her work. Cash bar and snacks available.

In Claude Cahun’s monologue “Helen the Rebel”, the narrative of Helen of Troy is reimagined and retold. Rather than existing as a passive object of desire, Cahun’s Helen collaborates with her husband Menelaus to orchestrate the Trojan War. Her renowned beauty is the result of a training process. Helen relates instructions from Menelaus on how to become beautiful: “. . . sit comfortably in a darkened room and think of nothing. Just that, every day, for a few minutes – gradually and indefinitely increasing the time”. This project casts an oblique eye at subjects homely and humble, extravagant and decorative, and to the biological forces that create transformation in organic life forms.

A thread running throughout my work is confusion of the animate and inanimate, an approach to form leading back to the Surrealists. This work is influenced by readings including the diaries of Charles Darwin, the work of philosopher Elizabeth Grosz, who seeks to link Darwin’s research on sexual selection with Luce Irigarary’s theories on sexual difference, and Jane Bennett’s writing on new materialism. Their work informs my own interest in how biological and cultural life evolves, changes and develops in unpredictable directions, always in a state of flux. We seek to establish order by creating taxonomies and groupings, fixing things in place. Yet, forces such as desire can destabilize and upend systems and classifications, resulting in new configurations.

The subjects in many of these drawings are brushes and neck ruffs. They are designed to fit or complement the body, as tool or as adornment. They carry references to territories of the feminine, the decorative and the domestic. The neck ruffs and brushes share a degree of ambiguity. The elaborate neck ruffs may be perceived as feminine, though they were worn historically by both women and men. They are a display of excess and unrepentant ornamentation. In contrast, the brushes and dusters are consigned to a role of service, and they wallow in the dust. These anthropomorphic forms hover between the male and female, they contain tongue-in-cheek references to physical anatomy. There is an attempt, in my work, that seems to submerge and emerge, to wrestle with and stretch the boundaries of the feminine into a new shape.

Other drawings in the Small Animals and Tumblers series feature simple life forms, drawn in response to Darwin’s theories of sexual selection. These little organisms take on increasingly saturated colors and grow extensions, transforming beyond their original basic shapes and coloration to become more complex and vivid. In reading Darwin’s journals, I felt an affinity with Darwin’s curiosity, close observation and deep appreciation of his subjects. I also sensed a fissure between Darwin’s methods of study (capture, collection and dissection), and my own impulse to preserve and protect. The medium of gouache does not allow for extensive revision, so every decision must be lived with. This results in compositions that grow and sprawl organically from one form to another.