AAC Instructor Portrait: Jennifer Wilkin Penick
As we gear up for our busiest season of art classes, we thought Teacher Appreciation Week is the perfect time to introduce you to some of our amazing instructors, all local artists, many of whom hold the highest degrees in fine arts. Today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to AAC volunteer-turned-instructor: Jennifer Wilkin Penick
Jennifer began her relationship with us as a volunteer in 2012, and less than a year later, in 2013 we invited her to teach in our classrooms. For Summer 2014, Jennifer will be teaching several AAC camp favorites such as Amazing Architects & Engineers and Bug Out, but–and here’s where it really gets exciting!–she has designed a special adult class focused on collage and paper art. Now’s your chance to take Creative Collage and Paper Art with Jennifer Wilkin Penick!
AAC: Tell us a little about yourself in just a few sentences.
Jennifer: I was a studio art major for a spell (as an undergrad), have since earned an M.A. in Italian art history, and I spent 25 years living and working in Rome. I moved back to the U.S. a few years ago and can now devote time to making art, teaching art, and restoring an old house. Much of the paper that I use in my work was found while shopping at Rome’s famous Sunday flea market. Currently, I am fascinated by natural history, old photos, things with wings, maps, birds and animals (real and imagined), the undersea world, saints and shrines, ancient Roman art, silhouettes, and plants.
AAC: Now, you have to tell us more about the art you make!
Jennifer: I make small paper collages that use a whimsical and eclectic mix of imagery and materials and that frequently incorporate hand-painted elements. I think that collages can be poem-like in their ability to create a narrative, a mood, or a composition from originally unrelated bits.
AAC: You use paper in your own art practice, but why teach a paper art class?
Jennifer: I love how accessible, affordable and flexible paper is. And I think that, deep down, everyone loves paper! We save concert tickets, old postcards, snippets of wrapping paper, family photos. For the Creative Collage and Paper Art class, I’ve designed projects to be easy and fun that can turn into wall-worthy art, gifts, or a springboard to further artistic expression.
Even if someone doesn’t feel comfortable drawing a portrait, anyone can make paper projects with a high level of confidence.
AAC: What project are you looking forward to the most in your class?
Jennifer: There are two projects that I’m really excited about. One is making monoprints using gelatin printing plates, and the other involves collage on canvas using a photocopy of a family photo. It’s a great final project that produces a finished work of art that will look great and may have special meaning to each person.
AAC: Since AAC’s mission is focused on contemporary art, we have to ask who are some of your favorite contemporary artists that work(ed) with paper?
Jennifer: Some of my favorite artists who work in paper or in mixed media that includes paper are Mirco Marchelli, Lisa Hochstein, Hannelore Baron, Robert Ohnigian, and Patricia Sonnino.
AAC: What about non-contemporary artists?
Jennifer: Joseph Cornell’s paper and box assemblages and Kurt Schwitters’ collages made from found paper have enchanted me since I was in high school. Other favorite collage artists include Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Antoni Tàpies, James Castle, and Lenore Tawney.
AAC: Finally, what’s your favorite thing about teaching at AAC?
Jennifer: I think that using new techniques and new materials helps kids — and adults! — jumpstart their creativity and have a real sense of discovery.
Sign up for Jennifer’s class now, before it fills up! Class starts the second week of July.