Dwyer (who has a BFA in Ceramics from the University of Washington) uses clay to playfully examine social issues and celebrate the female form. From pastel pregnancy test pipes to peach-like vagina incense burners, Dwyer's pieces have been an Internet hit since the 2016 election, earning her notoriety in Bust magazine, News week, Bullett Magazine and even The Guardian.
Jen Dwyer’s solo exhibition, Not For You, Bunny, is a tour de force of art-making, art history, and gender theory. I have seen Dwyer’s work before in group shows– notably at DEFINING FORM at the Untitled Space. In the context of other work it had strength and purpose, interacting with other mixed media pieces to form a progressive discussion about gender and objecthood. But in a space devoted solely to her work, Dwyer shines brilliantly. And that is because each ceramic is part of a larger story. Taken together, the works in Not For You, Bunny build spaces for the viewer to reflect on representation– both societally-imposed and self-created. Their narrative strength is a testament to the curatorial vision of Nathalie Levy and Stacie Lucas as well as Dwyer’s own artistic strength.
In 18th century France, the morning ritual of dressing and applying makeup was called The Toilette, an occasion of great social significance for both men and women. Visitors and close friends were invited to discuss matters of business, politics, or simply gossip- all while watching their host being prepared for public viewing. This performance could be seen as either an act of submission or an act of rebellion. While society wanted to mold the person into one ideal, with each layer--powdered wigs, corsets, beauty patches--individuals asserted their own sense of agency by redesigning themselves into who they wanted to be.
BENEATH THE SURFACE OF THE WONDERFUL TECHNIQUE AND BEAUTIFUL PASTEL COLORS OF JEN DWYER'S RECENT EXHIBITION, "NOT FOR YOU, BUNNY," AT LUCAS LUCAS GALLERY LIES A DEEPER EXPLORATION OF GENDER ROLES, SOCIAL CLASS STRUCTURES, AND INDIVIDUAL AUTONOMY. DWYER STOOD ELEGANT AND TALL IN A DARK GREEN FLORAL JUMPSUIT WHILE SHE OPENLY DISCUSSED HER INITIAL MOTIVATION TO CREATE HER CERAMIC INSTALLATIONS.
Jen Dwyer is a rising ceramic sculptor focusing on gender politics post-2016 election. In questioning corrupt hierarchies, Jen has created a range of porcelain mirrors, candelabras, and diversified vessels in her debut solo exhibition, “Not For You, Bunny.” In the Brooklyn gallery, Lucas Lucas, Dwyer presents her feminist-focused art infused with both vulnerability and humor to shed light on politics that reflect gender-discriminatory issues. The fuse of iconology, surrealism, and contemporary gender themes is evident throughout the exhibition, especially with Ring-Pop candlesticks, rose “brass” knuckles, finger crowns, vagina incense burners, and so on. With overarching themes and striking symbolism, Jen reflects:
“As a culture, our associations with power are limited, I hope to broaden them by gathering imagery across cultural lines and histories that explore the subjugation of the female body and create decorative quasi-functional sculptures that offer a remixed interpretation of utopia.”
On this episode, Kat interviews Jen and learns about her creative journey, the inspiration behind her latest ceramics and her upcoming exhibition in NYC. Kat and Jen chat about overcoming creative fear, taking risks, self care and much more.
Jen Dwyer is a ceramicist and artist based in Brooklyn and making work about the political realm in relation to current social issues. Directly affected by the debates surrounding abortion, Planned Parenthood, and the general censorship of underrepresented people, Jen has taken it upon herself to take a stand with her work. View her pieces and artist statement below.
Hearts, hands, antlers and balloon-like boobs. This is just one of many fantastic series by American artist Jen Dwyer. All of her work has a beautiful feminine power to it, but there was something about these delicate body parts, piled up with animal bits, that grabbed me instantly. Here are Jen’s words about this work:
“This series of porcelain pieces addresses the ephemeral quality of the human condition and nature – their correlation and disconnection. In the age of the Anthropocene I analyze the amount of agency we, as humans, give ourselves in regards to other species.”
Like many American women, ceramist Jen Dwyer felt a seismic shift in November 2016. "I have a double degree in ceramics and ecology, and until then I was doing work inspired by ecology," the artist tells AD PRO. "But then I started thinking about our current political situation—gender politics were so apparent and it felt like we were regressing." Dwyer was turned off by the thought of creating wholly reactionary work; instead, she decided to shift her focus and explore notions of femininity throughout history, turning these on their heads through historic references informed by decorative arts. "I messed around with these ideas but I wanted to do something with more longevity. So, rather than do something that was a direct response to our president, I wanted to create something that was a more encompassing body of work," explains the artist, who is currently enrolled in the MFA program at the University of Notre Dame. The culmination of her work over these past two years is now on display at the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, gallery Lucas Lucas in "Not For You, Bunny," a seductive, richly layered show of Dwyer's beguiling ceramics, co-curated by Nathalie Levey and Stacie Lucas, which opened last night.
Jen Dwyer grew up in the Bay Area, California. Dwyer attended the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, and received dual degrees in Ceramics and Environmental Science. She is currently completing her master’s degree program at the University of Notre Dame, where she received a Full Fellowship and will graduate in Spring 2019. Inspired by the Bay Area clay scene at a young age, Dwyer has worked with ceramics for over a decade. She has been awarded numerous grants, scholarships and fellowships, including the Pottery Center in Jingdezhen, China, Salem Art Works, in upstate New York, and Trestle Gallery Residency program in Brooklyn. She has also received numerous interviews and publications features, including Create Magazine, Vogue, Hyperallergic, Vice, and I-D magazine. Dwyer is one of the featured artists in the book The New Age of Ceramics published by Hannah Stouffer. When she is not making art, she is dancing or running.
Jen Dwyer is a ceramicist artist who makes socially engaged ceramic sculptures and functional art objects. She will launch her debut solo exhibition 'Not for You, Bunny' at Lucas Lucas in NYC.
'Not For You, Bunny' is based around Jen's MFA thesis "An analysis of porcelain objects of cultural memory in Contemporary European Art", which she's been working on via grad school at the University of Notre Dame. Through a decadent assortment of candelabras, mirrors, and vases from her "War Paint" and "Blind Spot" signature series, the artist muses on the complexities of agency, power dynamics, objectification, and gender politics.
Aesthetic wise: Think Marie Antoinette with a whimsical dash of Stevie Nicks and Lewis Carroll.
We write about Trump a lot—I’ve probably said his name 20 times today alone. But is it political engagement that keeps me reporting on every new art show that seeks to mock him? Or is it me just trying to cope? These are the questions ceramicist Jen Dwyer asks in her new series, Blind Spot. A pastel set of abstract cacti and Willendorf Venuses modernized by extra-large iPhones and coconut La Croix, the series tackles millennial escapism through technology and food. With her porcelain figures, Dwyer examines her own familiar response to the current cultural climate—a never-ending desire to log on and tune out. The 29-year-old explores these feelings of apathy and denial through surrealist sculptures that channel our collective doubt. And did we mention that they’re really cute?
BULLETT caught up with the artist to talk Instagram and indulgence. View the exclusive series, above.
“Our current political and social climate is arguably the most divisive, chaotic, and turbulent period that anyone of my generation or younger has ever experienced in this country. With the recent election, it's impossible to turn on the news, open a social media app or even listen to podcast without hearing strong discourse” Artist Jen Dwyer shares with us, “Having always been interested in women’s bodies- this election, once again, made it apparent how women’s stories of sexual subjugation are socially minimized and repressed as taboo. I also do think there are interesting parallels that can be drawn between this time and other art movements in the past– one example is comparing now to the middle of last century during the Fluxus movement in the 60s, those artists responded to modernized culture that was becoming increasingly more restrictive.” She continues. “These Artists sought to challenge what was considered ‘normal’ in a time when specifically suburban culture of the developed world was tightening up. Perhaps a similar movement will or has already started in response to recent events of our election and political hemisphere.”
Artist: Jen Dwyer
Born in: San Francisco, CA
With her porcelain figures, artist and ceramicist Jen Dwyer expresses her own response to the current cultural climate - one of absolute uncertainty......
Create Magazine Issue VII
Interview: Jen Dwyer
I grew up in Northern California. After high school, I attended University of Washington, where I studied science and art. After graduating, I moved to Brooklyn New York to pursue art. I am a practicing artist working primarily in ceramic art.