JENNIFER’S STUDIO PHOTO BY ERIC MINH SWENSON
JENNIFER KORSEN is one of those elusive people you meet on occasion who was actually born in Los Angeles.
“I’m a third generation Angeleno, so the city and all its different facets are a big part of my day-to-day inspiration. I have been drawing, painting, and crafting as far back as I can remember.”
Korsen’s Great Uncle was an illustrator for the LA Times and her Aunt dabbled in art, but creativity wasn’t really valued or encouraged in her family as much as more stable and traditional pursuits. She never considered art as a real career option or something she should study until she found herself immersed in it and realized she wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. So she dove in.
Korsen says she enjoys experimenting, and is most comfortable with acrylic, spray paint, mixed media collage, and woodworking.
In 2004 she moved to an artist community in Northridge called Das Bauhaus. For years she was there, part of a constantly evolving community of artists and musicians that at times felt like family and at times felt like a frat house. It was exactly what she needed and it was while living there that she started seeing herself as more of an artist and gained the confidence to show some of the art that she had been creating.
At the time it was mostly collage combinations of frilly and grotesque anatomical images that she wasn’t sure would be well-received. A lot of her inspiration and themes stem from the horror and fascination she felt as a small child, witnessing her mother lose her battle with cancer.
“It affected every bit of who I am, and a lot of the visual images I was faced with back then stayed with me. Interior anatomy is something everyone can relate too but also something that is personal and can make us very uncomfortable because it reminds us of our own mortality. I like that. It affects people, and there is comfort in realizing that we are all just these meat machines running around, not knowing what’s going on, but somehow convinced that we do.”
The heart is the great equalizer that most people connect to, but for very individual reasons. The full emotional spectrum—love, hate, vulnerability, strength, connection, life, death, pleasure, and pain—can all be recalled just by looking at the heart. To Korsen, it is the most powerful symbol.
Korsen is currently on year three of a residency at The Hive Gallery, but she’s also shown all over Los Angeles—in galleries such as LabArt, Gabba Gallery, Copro Gallery, and many others as well as group shows in Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle, and New York. She also had her art displayed at Brighton Sussex Medical College in the UK and was featured in a show in Frankfurt Germany that focused on art in Los Angeles. One piece was chosen as the design for the Frankfurt Artwalk poster that month with pictures of her work on posters throughout German shops and clubs.
In 2012, Korsen said she was starting to feel trapped in the small gallery/pop-up scene so she started putting up stickers of her LA Heart image. The attention they got was instant and caught her off guard. She quickly progressed to posters, then installations and murals.
“Putting up my work in public has been one of the most rewarding experiences as an artist. There is something powerful about becoming part of the landscape of the city where so many people can see and interact with it.”
Korsen’s next show is “Cross My Heart,” which opens Friday, February 13th at Stone Malone Gallery on Melrose Avenue. Followed by a few other shows and events this month, including live painting on Valentines day at the Kidspace Museum in Pasadena. Also, a piece in the “Pieces of Heaven” art auction benefiting Art of Elysium on Feb 17th and the UNICEF Next Generation Art party on February 28th. I’m currently curating a project with the Melrose Business Improvement district and I am looking forward to some upcoming projects with the American Heart association later in the year.