ARTIST TALK: JENAL DOLSON, 2020 MFA

Meet Jenal Dolson, an artist, forager and collector of objects. For Dolson, the world is full of treasure. A broken chain found in the lawn or a piece of salvaged trash – nothing is overlooked. “Objects have so many functions, and they come from something else. They have a rich functional history, a touchstone to the past, and something completely different…the object may have reached the end of its former life…(but) it has its own metamorphosis.” Dolson covets these histories and brings her inventory of objects into the studio. She alters and reworks them and repurposes them to build installations. Her artwork investigates the re-presentation of the objects, the visual connections and material relationships. “I find formal and historical relationships at play in procured fabric, cardboard tubes, chain, hair, and foam, that acknowledge surface, texture, line, pattern, gesture, and form.” Often, these installations become springboards for paintings that further transmute her sources.

For Battin’ A Hundred Dolson created Bump Dream, Soother and Whale, three brightly colored abstract paintings composed of biomorphic, geometric and linear shapes. Her intelligent use of color and complex spatial maneuvers create forms that seem vaguely familiar yet are entirely new. Jean Arp, a 20th-century artist, stated “I’ve always had an eye for shapes. Shape defines every outline, mass, and negative space. And everyone has a personal shape…attached to both body and psyche.” Dolson also believes that “the specificity of space, recognition, and movement that each shape holds presents itself in psychic structures.” In Dolson’s re-presentation, the psychic structures, or the previous cultural and material histories of the objects, linger. Yet the new visual connections evoke a novel vernacular. For inspiration, Dolson looks to the Memphis group, an Italian design and architectural movement whose designs featured colorful abstract shapes that allude to earlier styles. Likewise, Dolson does not merely present a visual facsimile of her objects. Instead, she extracts their “psychic structures” and recontextualizes their relationships. The shapes are renewed and given agency. Like an alchemist, she transforms the functions, shapes and histories of her objects into something much greater than the sum of their parts.

To learn more about Dolson visit jenaldolson.com

Learn more about Battin’ A Hundred at cam.usf.edu

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