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Malia Jensen: Nature Studies

Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland OR – May 4-27, 2006

Malia Jensen - HELP
Malia Jensen, HELP (2006),archival inkjet on fine art paper [Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland OR, May 4-27]

Malia Jensen's artwork has gained recognition in Portland since her graduation from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in 1989. Previously, Jensen was creating vignettes of nesting kittens with satin accessories that had a playfulness similar to Jeff Koons’ puppies. In Nature Studies, a feeling that Jensen describes as her “heightened anxiety about the state of the world” is more prominent – perhaps as a result of her move from Portland to Brooklyn, NY.

Through sculptures, drawings and photographs, Jensen creates subtle satires intended to provoke a particular moral about what we consider to be “natural” in the context of escalating modernity. Most of Jensen’s studies use animals as a metaphor for the “animalness” in humanity. Although her works are conceptually based, she welcomes instinctual reactions to the quirky situations she is proposing, like a guinea pig being used as a wrecking ball, a tower formed by a stack of bronze pigeons, or a mobile made of cast resin flies.

Malia Jensen - Pigeon Town: study
Malia Jensen, Pigeon Town: study (2006),collage and pencil on paper [Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland OR, May 4-27], Pigeon Town; study (2006),collage and pencil on paper [Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland OR, May 4-27]

Jensen’s work can be viewed as a narrative, although it is the situation rather than the story that is of interest to the artist. She addresses the distorted lens through which society perceives the natural world and attempts to unfold a sense of place and identity within it. Our relationship with nature is implied in the parables she creates, which often employ humour with sinister undertones. Although beauty and warmth in this new work is understated by Jensen's objective, her worldview is laden with poetry, insight, distress and dread.


Allyn Cantor

Malia Jensen - Wrecking Pet: Guinea Pig
Malia Jensen, Wrecking Pet: Guinea Pig (2006),enamel on bronze [Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland OR, May 4-27]

 Tue, Apr 4, 2006