Jeni Hansen Gard grew up in a small bed and breakfast in Grand Haven, Michigan. She received her MFA from The Ohio State University in 2015, her MA in Art Education from the University of Florida in 2012, and her BA in Art Education from Hope College in 2007. Jeni was the recipient of the 2015 MJ Wood-DO GOOD Residency at Red Lodge Clay Center and recently completed residencies at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center in Skælskør, Denmark, the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana and Denison University’s Art Space in Newark. She is pursuing her research interest in ethnobotany (the human plant relationship) and exploring the ceramic vessel as a form of social art practice. Jeni is navigating life’s adventures with her husband and fellow ceramicist Forrest Sincoff Gard.
Distilled to its most basic form, my work is about our relationship to food. This relationship is formed through our network with food and through our points of access—for example, the supermarket, farmers market, or maybe a home garden.
I began my work as a vessel maker and now define myself as an experience maker with vessel in hand. I see myself as a facilitator working in the space between people and the food they consume.
I am interested in the connection between food and our bodies. I use the ceramic vessel as a basis to explore this connection. My research addresses questions about our food system. Where our food comes from? What we eat? Why we eat what we eat? How cooking and preparing food affects our food choices? What is the role of the table as a place of gathering and shared meals?
I make functional objects intended for use in everyday life. I design the vessel to exist first as a transmitter and later as an artifact. I orchestrate the parameters surrounding their use through civic projects focused on several aspects of growing, cooking, eating, and sharing food.
My work focuses on the moment of human interaction, the touch, and the intimate connection. I am interested in the interrelationship that forms between people, through the vessel in the presence of food consumed.