Nearing: Jen Clay

On View: April - May 2017

“Sickness estranges us from our body; then the body is turned into an object, a thing no longer to be trusted. Stricken by dis-ease, we discover the power of the other in ourselves”, Erwin W. Straus, M.D., Ph.D. wrote to explain the experiences of the other in the Phenomenology of Hallucinations. Jen Clay’s series of works, Nearing, explores this idea of the otherness in ourselves being manifested as an unknown figure through her performance at Art Serve via Girls’ Club, her installation of fiber-based work at IS Projects, and the book that she produced with us through our Existent Books project. Through these different materials she explores otherness as a depiction of the otherness within ourselves such as anxiety, depression, and addiction. Nearing creates a scenario of being approached by otherness, while it manifests itself as a body that knows the audience personally. The otherness is depicted through an alien encounter that is influenced by accounts of the Moth Man in Ripley West VA in 1966-1967 and the recurrent unexplained sightings of the Brown Mountain Lights in North Carolina, leaving the audience to make sense of their own experience with something strange and unexplained.

During Art Walk, Clay projected an animation from within the universe of Nearing in the alley outside of the IS Projects gallery, accompanied by a live soundscape produced byRichard Vergez. In the gallery, she installed standalone fiber/textile works which tie to the innards of the costume creature's innards, which they expose to the audience during the performance. The installation treats the innards as textile portals to an alien floating organ landscape, offering the audience a view of a separate space accessible only through the increasing presence and corporeality of the other.

Jen Clay is a Fort Lauderdale based multimedia artist. She received her Masters in Fine Arts in sculpture from the University of Florida while also studying costume design and behavior analysis. She has been commissioned by Girls’ Club Collection to create a video projection series called UnderNeath in 2015 and currently is working a off-site performance for Girls’ Club as a part of their OFF site series which will take place in 2017. She has been invited to the Harn Museum in Gainesville, FL and to the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, NC to create interactive installations specifically directed toward engaging children. She has performed at ICA Miami for Miami Design District Site-Specific Performance Series in 2015. Also in 2015 her short film, Schools, was accepted into Visionaria in Milan, Italy. Clay is influenced from children educational TV shows aesthetics and she researches how these shows use edutainment to encourage learning and curiosity. Currently she creates wearable and performative sculptures for video and performance works that explores ways of depicting feelings of trauma, abuse , anxiety and fear though the use of paranormal and disorientation of the natural world.