WILTON PATCH . Ridgefield, CT
by Audra Carbone June 2, 2010
Jen Pepper's mother was a weaver and her father was a sports writer. Somehow, that has translated into her role as Weir Farm's Artist in Residence.
"The word that comes to mind is translation," said Pepper. While she was referring to her current exhibition at the Wilton Library, she might as well have been referencing her past.
Pepper discussed her artistic career during her exhibition/reception titled Translations at the Wilton Library last Thursday. A small, intimate group gathered to view slides of her work and listen to her tales of her fascinating life as an artist, especially how she spent her time creating in the studio at Weir Farm. Pepper spent two weeks at Weir Farm and the reception was the debut of her work there.
The Wilton Library works in conjunction with Weir Farm, hosting each Artist in Residence's exhibition. There are 12 artists picked each year to live and create in the studio at the farm.
"The studio is their private domain, which is our pledge to them," explained Weir Farm's Interim Executive Director Janice Hess. "And the reception is when they put their art on display."
Pepper's slide show, which incorporated poignant quotes and photographs of her art, was titled Translations because her work is based on how she responds to changes in the earth. She is also very connected to her parents, both of whom have passed, yet she keeps them alive by weaving them into her art.
"My mother was an amazing stitcher," Pepper explained.
Mother and daughter once collectively created an artistic piece together while her father worked as a sports writer.
"What I am excited about is blending language and knitting, riddles and conundrum," she said of her artistic muses. "When I see crochet lines, I think of it as writing sentences."
As a child she received a loom from her parents and although she has been a painter and sculpter throughout her career, weaving has consistently showed up in her work in one way or another. Creating woven pieces often made her feel as though she was looming pages of a book.
In conjunction with weaving, which Pepper does with the tip of a paintbrush or a crochet hook, cowhide, steel and watercolor also play an important role in her art.
"I use materials that I feel are necessary for the work," she explained.
At Weir Farm, Pepper tooled pieces of cowhide and paintings, but first she utilized the serenity of the space and spent time contemplating life.
"For the first couple days I just thought," she explained.
When she began to hear the tree-frogs, or peepers as some Wiltonians know them, it inspired the artist to create a painting of what they sound like. The painting was debuted at the exhibition.
Pepper left Weir Farm for other artistic adventures on May 31 and felt her time spent at the historic farm was a wonderful gift.
"It has been a tremendous experience," Pepper stated.
Jen Pepper's artwork and schedule can be viewed at www.jenpepper.com.