The kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, the front hall – these are the locations where Chicago-based artist Jennifer Cronin has set many of her paintings. We see young women engaged in the most ordinary acts – sleeping, baking, cleaning, thinking, the opening or closing of doors. But the sphere in which these tasks occur is constantly colliding with or being invaded by another dimension, a dreamlike realm that manifests itself in smoky masses and sparkling clouds and shiny pastes. Far from rendering the artworks unbelievable or fantastic, these mysterious details add to their authenticity. Who, amongst us, hasn’t got a part of their mind that is perpetually attempting to escape into or at least access an enchanting domain of its own making?
Thematically, Jennifer blends the ‘other-worldly’ and the ‘starkly real’. She writes: “I am interested in exploring what it means to be human in this world today. Day by day, the world that we live in is changing and becoming increasingly difficult to make sense of. As an artist, I enjoy the freedom to create work that is a constant and ever-changing reflection of my interests and also our changing times. Much of my early work, which is shown here, explores the psychology of domestic life. These paintings are alive with a sense of magic amidst the backdrop of mundane, everyday living. While creating this work, I was interested in composing ambiguous, yet wondrous scenarios, setting the stage for rich and varied viewer-generated narratives.”
The process of wandering, the search for something to follow, the hope for a hint of that which is genuine and true, a wistful yearning for more – all these concerns come alive in these figurative/magic realist paintings. They are also quiet reflections on the brilliance of the quotidian.
“As time has passed,” continues Jennifer, “I have begun to look outward and attempt to use art as a vehicle for exploring timely issues in this world, such as capitalism, homelessness, and climate change. Currently, I am developing a series based on a recent trip to Newtok, Alaska, which explores the vulnerable and disappearing landscapes of this planet.”
Born and raised in Oak Lawn, Illinois, Jennifer attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she earned a dual BFA in painting and art education. She also studied at Camberwell College of Art in London, completing her education in 2009. Many of the seeds for the work shown here were planted in high school and college.
Since graduation, Jennifer has exhibited widely in the Chicago area, as well as nationally and internationally. She has had solo exhibitions at Elephant Room Gallery and 33 Contemporary Gallery, among other venues. She has been featured in many publications, including New American Paintings, and has earned numerous awards for her work, including Best in Show at the Buchanan Center for the Arts show America: Now and Here juried by Eric Fischl. Recently, Jennifer was awarded a grant from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation to support the development of her upcoming series of work.
Images used with permission.