Local Artist Explores Subjectivity Through Collages

Photo: Korina Rojo

Photo: Korina Rojo
Photo: Korina Rojo

Point Gallery on Santa Fe is currently showcasing the work of local artist Jennifer Davey.

The exhibit, What You Believe Is What You See, explores the relational experience of living in an era of turbulent politics and social self-reform. The paintings of Jennifer Davey—a longtime Colorado resident—offer viewers a chance to fathom their own beliefs through the lens of abstract art.

“We may think that it is the outside we are looking at,” Davey said in an artist statement on her website. “But what we see is based on our beliefs on the inside.” Everyone carries a complex internal world and a lifetime of experiences that shapes their understanding of daily events—mundane and significant—and What You Believe Is What You See provides an artistic mirror for self-knowledge.

Inspired by post-World War II minimalist abstraction and drenched with poignant insight into how a person understands the world around them, Davey’s paintings are a complex fusion of solid color, elongated organic shapes, and distinct geometric patterns. Enormous pools of layered oil paint, punctuated by simple lines and detailed figures, fill the canvases. Blue oceans of color—like in Davey’s painting “Sea Legs”—are translucent in their thin films that trap the light and create the sensation of gazing into a directionless abyss.

Davey acknowledges the cloudy fog of subjective interpretation in the soberly-textured “Rational Minds Transformed.” The gray layers of cold, dripping patterns appear diluted, reflecting the veil of framing memories through which all individuals peer at an art piece. No art is viewed with pure objectivity, and much of an art piece’s worth is determined—alongside its practical technique, subject matter, and artist-rendered interpretation—by the viewer.

Michael Vacchiano, one of the curators of Point Gallery, described Davey’s creative style as inviting and communal. “Jenn has moved from an experiencer to an interpreter,” Vacchiano said. “We’ve represented her work for the last four or five years, and she’s blossomed. She’s inviting her audience into her artistic process to share, interpret, and inspire these pieces. The viewers are as much a part of her work as the material is.”

From the citadels and misty temples—covered in a translucent gray film—of “Remembering Unknown Territory” down to the finest, thinnest red chalk line disappearing into a hazy grid of “Blueprint,” Davey’s paintings provide a complex realm of relationships for her audience to engage with. The painting “Nothing is wrong, nothing needs fixing” bears strident political undertones that scream disruption, a checkered past, and an ironic Manifest Destiny as bold, uniform shapes sail relentlessly across a white-washed canvas. Tempestuous veins of angry red texture pulse through a black fog in the painting “Witness.”

The capstone piece, “What You Believe Is What You See,” displays a stunning amount of minute detail in its layers of oil paint, stained sheet music, and chalk sketches. Evoking a gloomy city lit with oil lamps, the open mystery of the collage invites reflection on what actually is lurking in the dim corners of society’s mind—perhaps fear of the dark, perhaps a reluctant admission that the turbulence of contemporary times has molded us. Or perhaps just the sober understanding that eyes conjure out of the shifting, murky pools only what wants to be seen.

Point Gallery charges no admission fee, and Davey’s exhibition What You Believe Is What You See runs until Sept. 30.

Elsa Peterson
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