author: danielle corson | a&c writer
Core, installed at the MacKenzie Art Gallery/Courtesy of Sean Whalley
A look into the mind and works of Jennifer Shelly Keturakis
Ever wonder what artists are up to? What they are working on, where they work, and many more questions? Well, Regina has an amazing local art community and each month I hope to interview a visual artist and showcase their works here in the Carillon.
This month, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Shelly Keturakis (Jen SK). She is a sculptural artist based in Regina, Saskatchewan. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Regina in 2014, and currently is a Master of Fine Art Candidate at the University of Regina. She has exhibited in galleries in Regina, Saskatoon, Arizona, and New Jersey. Jen SK has won several awards including the 2014 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Center, in Hamilton, New Jersey for her BFA graduating installation Core. Jen has also completed several residencies around the province working with fiber art mediums such as knitting, crocheting, etc. My interview with her was exciting, thoughtful, and informative.
Why do you do what you do?
Jen SK: I need to. I tried not making art for several years in my mid-twenties and I felt like a shallow projection of myself.
What keeps you creating and making?
Jen SK: My constant research as an artist allows me to continually become more and more articulate. This combination propels me forward.
Can you please describe your process?
Jen SK: It always starts with yarn, an unfortunate amount of math, trial and error, and technically figuring out how to pull off how I imagine the finished installation.
Why did you choose to pursue an MFA at the U of R?
Jen SK: I wanted the opportunity to professionally grow as an artist with the resources and support of the University of Regina. The Visual Arts Department (within MAP) has a contemporarily competitive sculpture program. I am honored to study within it.
What artist or specific artworks inspire and influence your work?
Jen SK: Currently I have been admiring the 3D knitting wearable art by Olga Buraya-Kefelain; the art coming out of the Black Veil Tattoo Parlor in Salem, Massachusetts by Ryan and Mathew Murray; and the massive, colourful installations by Arne Quinze. While taking in what other artists are producing, repeating patterns and math found in nature can be directly found in some of my art pieces.
Can you tell me about yarn-bombing, and your experience with it? Yarn bombing is guerilla knitting, urban knitting, or graffiti knitting and is a type of street art using yarn instead of paint or chalk.
Jen SK: I used to yarn bomb. I do not have much time for it anymore. I feel that to really do honor to it as a guerrilla artist you would have to continually be adding to public spaces and even engaging in turf wars with graffiti artists of other mediums. In the past, I have yarn-bombed areas of Regina, Calgary, and Central Park in NYC. In the past, I was able to yarn bomb at Regina’s Folk Fest two years in a row, and I yarn bombed a candy tree in front of Dessart Sweet for a couple of months. In the past, I had a yarn-bombing artist residency at two different Regina Public Library Branches. I also had the honor to be part a part of Street Meet, an annual public art festival in Saskatoon the year it started as an artist and workshop facilitator.
Can you tell me a bit about your current and new works that you are developing?
Jen SK: My new work is still very much in progress and alludes verbal articulation until it is further along.
How long does it take you to complete a work, such as Core?
Jen SK: It took me three weeks to complete. Three weeks of working seven days a week, ten to eighteen hour days. I barely slept and almost never stopped knitting. Going forward I do my best to never put myself in deadline circumstances that require that type of work schedule from me. I am grateful my hard work paid off, and Core was curated into an exhibition by the International Sculpture Center which toured internationally.
Are there any repeating themes within your artworks? Any repeated stiches/patterns, etc.?
Jen SK: I continually re-examine and explore light and shadow, geometry, and varying installation styles. Right now, despite all of my attempts to insert new techniques I seem to be covering everything in the single crochet stitch. It is so dynamic and easy to make shapes with.
And lastly what piece of art do you wish you owned?
Jen SK: I don’t know, that is a tough one. Most of the art I admire would never fit in my home. I would like to own one of Troy Coulterman’s art pieces one day.