Chapter 3 Recent Work
Jane Gennaro’s work continues to honor and celebrate the threads that connect life and death, object and memory. The impulse to rescue and preserve is a recurring theme. Increasingly, a sense of spirituality emerges, recalling both the artist’s Catholic upbringing and her personal, existential confrontation with nature and the human condition.
In her own words:
“Each of the series has its own look and technique, but all of them grow from the articulate remains of real life.” The process begins with observation and culminates in storytelling. First comes discovering an object or image with a fascinating shape, history, and sense of mystery. The impulse is to save these things and transform them into personal yet universal narratives.
“A work can happen in days or develop over a number of years. In the end, there is a piece that turns out to be my voice, saying what I need to say.”
Gennaro’s performance monologue, Feed the Models had explored our society’s obsession with impossible thinness as the beauty standard imposed on girls and women. Models is a series of cut-outs from fashion magazine ads which create fantastic beings from imagery that seeks to objectify and commodify the female body. These “scissor drawings” form hybridic human-like creatures with monstrously elongated and attenuated limbs in the form of liquidly dancing silhouettes.
Dominique Nahas writes, “With its allusions to corporeal alteration, bodily transgression, and the slippage between opposites (living and dead, human and animal, surface and depth), Models is unsettling work. It pertains to the oscillating appetite of the American psyche that veers between repulsion and desire.”
Gennaro’s Infrastructure series is a further turnaround from nature back to the other world she inhabits in equal measure: the darker, more angular mysteries of urban existence. In this complex, provocative work she layers intricate compositions of wire, nails, and gilded string to exemplify the dynamics of city life, simultaneously evoking the religious rituals that informed her upbringing. (The work of a recovering Catholic never ends!)
The artist’s current work tends to unite both natural and urban environments. But with a new emphasis: in equal measure, its focus on memory and the residue of lives lost, and the gift of awakening, the notion of a “return to nature”, whereby deadwood and detritus are transformed, in public surroundings, into symbolic objects signifying the impermanence of life.
In sum, Jane Gennaro’s work celebrates our relationship with, and uncanny similarity to all living creatures large and small. As she says, “You can see it in the shape of our bones, no matter what size. Each life is but an infinitesimally minute piece of the total organism of Creation.”