Artist of the Month: Jennifer Kane curates 'Climate,' aims to open connections that go beyond media, politics
Jennifer Kane grew up with artistry instilled in her at a young age. Art is a means of communication for her; a concept you can find anywhere at any time.
Kane isn’t just a talented artist, but also a climate communicator, a title she uses that combines the beauty of creating art and telling an important story about climate.
Kane’s journey started in rural southern Illinois, where creating things was an integral part of her lifestyle. Kane’s family had a garden, made their clothing, and created any art that was displayed in their home.
“This lifestyle allowed me to feel very connected to the goods we had, instead of asking people for their service,” she says.
This upbringing paved the way for Kane’s art and adult life.
Kane studied art, theater, and science at the University of Illinois, graduating with a BFA and MFA. Now, Kane travels back and forth between State College and Southern California with art as a main part of her life.
After taking a recreational painting class at the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania, she started her own oil painting class there in 1999. Kane is an Art Alliance board member and has participated in the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts for the last 15 years.
This month, Kane is curating the show Climate at Art Alliance. Peter Buckland, academic programs manager for the Penn State Sustainability Institute, is the juror for the finished works.
Climate will be open from 5 p.m. April 5 to April 28 at the Art Alliance Gallery Downtown, 123 South Fraser Street. The show will include any art medium that can hang on a wall or sit on a pedestal, including drawings, paintings, printmaking, sculptures, and assemblage.
“The show is an open invitation to artists to learn a bit about climate change and then express their ideas and observations visually and verbally through art and writing,” says Kane.
As a longtime conservation artist, Kane took an interest in climate change about five years ago. She started studying it, attending lectures, and speaking with some of Penn State’s world-class experts about the science of the changes our planet is experiencing.
“I made it a focus for myself to research and even listen to podcasts about climate,” she says. “Making art about it gave me a way to process this information and share it with others.”
Kane’s biggest hope for the Climate exhibit is that it will facilitate learning and discussion. She feels climate is something that affects everyone and needs to be addressed in society at local, regional, national, and global levels.
“I also hope to get people away from the media and back to connecting with each other about a topic that is only shared in a political light,” says Kane.
Art is a way for her to open up this discussion and listen without having it be an intense political topic.
Among all of the places she has been, Kane thinks the local community is a leader on this topic.
“It’s a really special thing because I’ve been to a lot of other communities that don’t have anything like this and it’s a big benefit to the local culture,” says Kane.
There is considerable access to information and lectures in the community, she notes. She thinks part of the responsibility of being an artist is to reflect the times and circumstances in which one lives.
“I’m excited for artists to pick a specific aspect of climate to learn about it, write about it, make art, and be informed,” Kane says. “I want more people to become climate communicators!”
Kane’s art doesn’t stop here. There is a full exhibit of her work on climate change at the Kish Expect More Store on Allen Street in downtown State College. The First Friday event will be held May 3 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., starting with a reception. There will be drinks and appetizers for the community to enjoy while looking at Kane’s art and getting the chance to talk to her. People can see her exhibit until June.
“I enjoy talking to people about my work and appreciate where they come from and respecting their point of view,” she says. This is what makes Kane want to use her art to address causes like climate.
Visitors can see many different pieces, including her favorite medium, landscape oil paintings done with a knife. Kane’s technique started because she wanted the process to be physically and spiritually responsive to this topic.
Kane uses a combination of manmade and natural objects such as paper, metal, acrylic paint, and chemicals. As she creates her art, chemical reactions start to occur directly on the canvas. She feels it is a symbolic way for her to interact with the environment. She describes her art as something designed to be beautiful and attract people to spark an important conversation.
To learn more about Kane’s work, visit jenniferkaneart.com. For more on Climate, visit artallianceofcentralpa.org.