Jen grew up in Buffalo NY, the oldest of six children who helped cultivate her sense of nurture and social responsibility. Her work celebrates identity, connection and survival. Jen works for a more empathic and equitable society through her studio practice, outreach work and collaborative events and projects. She integrates food and pottery through Gathered, a series of pop-up celebrations in partnership with Edible Magazine and local growers, chefs and artists. Together with ceramic artist Jane Gordon she co-founded the What Becomes Project, which received a Fulcrum Fund Award of 516 Arts and the Andy Warhol Foundation to build community through collaborative clay sculpture. Jen partnered with writer and performer Ebony Booth to develop Burque Noir, an annual multi-media showcase for visual and performing artists in Albuquerque who are African American.
Jen earned a Liberal Arts Degree in Art and Writing from Houghton College and later moved to Albuquerque to pursue her MFA at the University of New Mexico where she also studied race, class and gender in American culture. She participated in UNM’s Land Arts of the American West program as a Teaching Assistant and maintains a strong ecological focus in her work. In 2008, Jen held her MFA exhibition, Home Economics, at the Harwood Art Center where she currently serves as the Associate Director of Community Outreach. She participates in national invitational and juried exhibitions including: Evocative Garden, NCECA Biennial, Beyond the Brickyard at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana; Small Favors at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia; and Art in Craft Media at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo. Her writing has been published in the international journal, Ceramics, Art and Perception , Ceramics Monthly and elsewhere.
My work is shaped by relationships like the concentric rings on the surface of water. My work promotes our relationships with ourselves, with others, with our land and with our ecosystem. I collaborate with local growers, fellow artists, activists, poets, writers, and performers. I examine the ways Culture, Economics, History and Politics shape communities across our connected and interdependent planet.
Since my 2008 MFA exhibition, Home Economics, I’ve examined the impact of conspicuous consumption on American culture and on the global ecosystems that bear the burden of industrial production. I’ve come to see small-scale local production as a useful means of corporate resistance and as one of the greatest benefits a community can offer its own place and the world at large.
My creative process is an investment of time and labor toward the slow production of careful objects. My objects draw connections between interior and exterior, creature and habitat, survival and sustenance. I activate pottery and sculpture in social settings through meals, collaborations and public events designed to facilitate conversation, connection and celebration.
What Becomes is an ongoing collaborative sculpture project that helps connect communities across Albuquerque through artmaking. Working with a team of artists that has included Jane Gordon, Teresa Larrabee, Helen Atkins, Will Geusz, and Chris Casey, we’ve run workshops at the Harwood Art Center, at New Day’s Community Learning Center, and on the shared patio of Zendo Art and Coffee and Sidetrack Brewing. Some “stacks” are glazed, some are left green to be recycled later. We hold an exhibition and community celebration at the close of each project.
What lies Between You & Me a world of experiences, histories, identifiers, inheritances, fears, and hopes. This experiential installation brings people face-to-face to share differences and examine what we hold in common. Each event is unique to the participants, season and setting involved. A recent event at the historic Gutierrez Hubbell House and farm brought together clients checked into a voluntary drug rehabilitation program. Lead Artist Jen DePaolo crafted a medicinal, locally harvested lunch catered specifically to the dietary needs and restrictions of her guests. Guests were treated to a private tour of the house and farm, and were provided with a series of conversation prompts throughout their meal.