When Jennifer Jean was a young girl growing up in Philadelphia, her mother gave her her first blank canvas. It was a wall in their home, and Jennifer’s mother spoke two simple words that became the ignition of a long and successful career.
Jennifer covered the entire expanse of the wall in a brown and white paper, held together with tape. Today she covers a 60 x 48-inch canvas in oils, recapturing the history of Philadelphia as she starts her COPA Artist in Residence for the Arts in Courts Project 2020-2023.
How did Jennifer go from experimenting with design and art as a child to becoming one of the most respected artists in Boston?
As a kid, Jennifer spent her time doodling. As she grew older, she continued to explore her art. Whenever she was not at school, she would wander around 1300 Chestnut Street admiring the murals, sketching at the Rodin Museum, and sitting/drawing in the Arms and Armor room at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
On September 5, 2019, Jennifer Jean became the third President of the National Association of Women Artists, MA Chapter. In this role, she coordinates a group of fabulously talented artists in an active program of exhibitions, seminars, and educational activities. The mission of the National Association of Women Artists, Inc. (NAWA) is to foster and promote awareness of and interest in visual art created by women in the United States.
According to Jennifer Jean, “NAWA promotes culture and education in the visual arts through exhibitions of its members’ works, educational programs, scholarships, awards, its historical archive, and other appropriate means. While encouraging contemporary and emerging artists, the association honors and continues the long and important contribution of women to the history of American culture and art.”
In 2020, Jennifer Jean started her COPA Artist in Residence, the “Arts in the Court Project 2020-2023” where her 60×48 inches oils that will be hung in judges’ chambers will give us a glimpse into an earlier period of Philadelphia history when the city was the “workshop of the world.” The potential subjects include the manufacturing line at old industrial companies such as a Bergodoll brewery, the Tasty Cake Company, and the Philco Radio Company, and steel-making at Midvale Heppenstall. In her words, “I am breaking away from subjects that I usually paint of figures and abstract images to paint historical places. I hope my paintings will capture their energy and industry as they worked in massive workplaces. I want to conjure up an era when human hands were producing in an atmosphere of cheerfulness, youth, and pride. Each painting, I hope, will help viewers relive these moments.”
Jennifer Jean isn’t one to shy away from challenges, according to her, the key to facing challenges and overcoming challenges lies in staying positive. The world is a big place, and having a positive outlook on things will help in facing the challenges that are to come. When it comes to having a proper mindset and staying positive, here’s what she had to say.
“No matter what happens ― I think positive. This positive outlook has helped me overcome challenges in the arts, and there are a lot. Basically, don’t lose yourself in the negativity around you, don’t lose your creative soul in this odious world that’s surrounding you, in the crazies that try to hurt you. What works for me is slapping my face when self-doubt comes and reminding myself to stay positive. When we think positively, we are our most positive selves and have the best chance of staying positive.”