Alumni Spotlight - Jenniffer Omaitz
Jenniffer Omaitz is an MFA alumna (’09 Painting) who has been getting a lot of local and national attention lately. In her artist statement she says ”My paintings explore ideas of Fold, Gesture and Movement. These are approached in two ongoing series; Solid Movement and Folding Gesture. Solid Movement is an investigation into gesture and its ability to encapsulate time and psyche, fuse internal and external, and record conceptual state changes in solidified form. Folding Gesture explores changes in spatial order that appear fractured or fragmented.” She has also been exploring site-specific installation over the past seven years. We asked Jenniffer, who is also a part-time painting professor at Kent State, about her recent successes such as the Akron Soul Train Fellowship and her experiences as a student at the School of Art.
Q: Congratulations on your Akron Soul Train Fellowship! Can you talk about what that means and what you’ll be doing during your time with AST?
A: The Akron Soul Train is a new residency/fellowship/community hub located in the Northside Arts District of Akron, Ohio. The mission of the Akron Soul Train (AST) includes allowing Artists to engage with the community through outreach to schools, groups and other arts organizations. As an educator, this mission is close to mine in terms of community outreach and teaching through art.
My project for the AST will be an extension of something called, Other Geometries. The work created will present an internalized, intuitive architecture that binds instinct with paint with the poetry of assemblage in a different place from where the original paintings where made. Paintings will be traditional on canvas and smaller assemblage/works on paper. For this particular incarnation of Other Geometries I will work with 6-10 different artists that are well known to the Akron area. Asking permission to work with some of their discarded studio fragments as a collaborative piece. Work that I made in the collaboration will be shown side by side the painted work. Elements of chance, the unknown, serendipity, fragment, time and place work into the mystery of creative process.
Q: Do you have other recent notable accomplishments and which one excites you the most?
A: Yes, I’ve been crazy busy this year with showing and working on aspects of my career. The AST fellowship which runs from October 1 - 30 will be the highlight of my year. Also, I’m excited about the Podcast called “Beyond the Studio” where I am interviewed by Nicole Mueller and Amanda Adams about my career path and business of being an artist. I’ve also shown in Columbus at the Riffe Gallery for the exhibition “Come Along With Me”, curated by Richard Fletcher. I’ve been invited to Milwaukee for a group show of participating Midwest Artist Studio artists. The MAS project was started by educator, artist, curator, and galleriest, Frank Juarez. This project spanned three summers and was funded by the National Endowment of the Arts. I also have a painting in the Fresh Paint Biennial 2017 opening on September 29.
Q: How do you feel your education at Kent State prepared you for your career in visual art?
A: My Masters program prepared me to think about painting and working across disciplines in alternative ways. However, I wish the program at the time placed more emphasis on the business aspect of being a professional artist and channels of education for grant writing, professional practice that encompassed proposal applications to corporations and professional seminars that were more business oriented for the arts.
Q: Can you share any experiences during your time at Kent State that changed your art making path or direction of your work?
A: The New York trips every semester and taking some of the amazing art history classes. This blend of travel and critical theory really expanded my practice and pushed me to consider other conceptual approaches to making work.
Q: What advice would you offer current art students?
A: Listen to your professors and ask them questions that relate to your area of interest. The professors at Kent are extremely talented and super smart. Some of the best artist’s in North East Ohio and the region are working at KSU right now. Take advantage of the advise they provide.
Place your energy in an area you really love. Following your intuition, this will make you a better artist and allow you to seek answers, often times they are not present.
Show up to class and absorb and participate as much as you can!
Jenniffer Omaitz, Califormation, Acrylic on Canvas, 36” x 40”, 2017 (top)
Jenniffer Omaitz, Fragmented, Site Specific Mixed Media Installation built for 2017 Faculty show at University of Akron, variable dimensions, 2017 (middle)
Jenniffer Omaitz, Indelible, Acrylic on Canvas, 36” x 40”, 2017 (bottom)