Jennifer Meridian is a visual artist based in Pittsburgh, PA. She uses drawing, sculpture, video, performance, and photography to interrogate and interrupt dominant systems of power that become reconsidered, dismantled, and reconstructed through a queer feminist lens. In political-personal works, she engages with a range of source materials including government proposals, fragments of slate, and other artists and performers to create solo and collaborative works that span discipline and media. She has shown in galleries, museums and screening venues across the US.
Artist Statement on my series I Eye Witness, 2015-2017 Eye Witness Series began in 2015 in my studio as an accident. I was already working with slate on other projects and when you work with it you realize half the time the slate just falls apart completely in your hands and breaks, shattering in pieces on the floor. It’s part of the process – but as the broken pieces accumulated on my studio floor I began to see in them faces and body parts of animals (human, non-human). From there it just kept going. I see these as witnesses – a hybrid form of species that is I, and Eye, and you, and she. They are all animal – both human and non-human. The circumstances happening around the time they are “born” are deeply influential to them, and what forms and informs them comes from whatever is orbiting my personal life at the time, as well as the dominant headlines in the news. As a bedrock foundation, however, they are concerned with the ongoing onslaught that all living systems currently face – mass extinction and habitat loss. Human and non-human, again. There is a consistent current in the story they are narrating – as characters – that they themselves are free to tell. Their individual stories will one day be written as a complement to this visual work. Right now, I am interested in how this work operates between sculpture and drawing – and only becomes realized as a wall installation. Inspired by both the great tradition of mural art as a political tool, and the walls of the great Natural History Museums, I like thinking of these bodies as future fossils – maybe the remnants of them will be discovered long after I am gone as a way to put back together the pieces of the strange and surreal puzzle we are currently experiencing as a global, living, system. I am thinking about the sixth mass extinction, my own queerness, otherness, the female energy, and the actual body itself – its multiplicitous ways, its fragility and strength, its endlessness and mortality.
Being at SFAI allowed me the time and space to consider the impact of water on our lives. It was a strange and surreal place to contemplate such a major resource that is finite and being desecrated everywhere on the planet with seemingly little thought. I enjoyed the artists I met while in residency here, they were thoughtful and bright and energized and dedicated. I will stay connected to them throughout my life.