Jennifer Radil / Omaha, NE, USA
Jennifer Radil combines ephemera, illustration and painting to create art inspired by the unique, place-based connectivity of ecological and social systems. She uses vintage maps, paint, pencils and coiled string to create collaged topographical maps unlike those found in any atlas. Jennifer incorporates antique atlas entries and Federal censuses with wet and dry media to create original works on paper, wood and vellum. Layering materials is a key part of her process. Inspiration comes from geological formations like the rugged Badlands of western Nebraska and South Dakota, whose exposed sedimentary layers show the effects of water and wind over millions of years; or interiors, where layers of wallpaper each tell a story about a space’s former inhabitants.
Radil’s most recent work pairs portraiture with cartography as a study of identity formation; her current commission features a drawing of an eighteen year-old set against a map of the Boston suburb where she was raised. Her hair and clothing begin to blend into the nineteenth-century map of Framingham (which includes the location of her childhood home) so that it becomes difficult to separate the young woman from the place where she came of age.
Jennifer studied studio art at Colorado College and she completed her graduate work in art therapy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A registered art therapist and teaching artist, Jennifer balances facilitating creative opportunities for others with creating her own work out of her studio in Omaha. This was her first residency.
On both personal and creative levels, the residency removed blinders that I didn’t know I had. It redefined what is possible and lended insight into ways I can enrich the significance of my work. At SFAI I was immersed in a fresh, exciting sphere, with regards to the artist cohort and the city itself. The experience pushes me to ask more of myself and to no longer relegate certain opportunities as “out of reach.”
My work tends to be meticulous, detailed, and highly controlled. During the residency I switched from using mostly dry media to water color in an attempt to take a looser approach. The residency afforded me time to try something new because I didn’t have to stick to a project proposal or any kind of predetermined result. This felt freeing and gave me time and space to experiment.
The most beneficial thing to me about being awarded the Creative Access residency fellowship is that it removed me from the obligations and distractions of my usual environment. I had no one to answer to but myself; no well intentioned neighbors or family members dropping in the studio. My time was truly my own. This was a luxury. Residencies are no longer a thing that only “other artists” do. The fellowship incited a confidence in me and an enhanced definition of my artist self.