Sculptures “From the Same Mind” by Jennifer Torres are on display at JCJC

Written By: Teresa McCreery
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Date Submitted: 2016-10-19 15:31:38

ELLISVILLE – The sculptures and three-dimensional pieces by the artist, Jennifer Torres came alive as she shared her inspiration and process in developing each piece with Jones County Junior College art students. Torres, who is a sculpture professor and chairs the Department of Art and Design at the University of Southern Mississippi, gave JCJC students insight to her unique, inanimate objects which are currently on display at the Eula Bass Lewis Art Gallery at JCJC through October. 
“I liked all of the art at the beginning of the tour of her sculptures,” said New Augusta JCJC freshman art student, Stephanie Hill. “However, as she shared the background on each piece, explaining how she created it and her thought process, I begin to think about it more and have feelings about that piece. It came alive to me.”
Torres explained to students, “You should hope your work comes to life for each person. No sculpture will be the same; you won’t get the same thing out of art. No sculpture will be the same and it shouldn’t be. Different things, like nature influences artwork and the viewer’s reaction.”
The Hattiesburg artist is originally from Queens, New York and lived in Teaneck, New Jersey. At only 14, she began training at the Art Students League in New York City and earned her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at the Cooper Union in New York City.  Her training also includes cabinetmaking in New England and earning her Masters of Fine Arts in sculpture at the University of Georgia in Athens.  As a teenager, she traveled alone to India and Nepal visiting small villages, photographing the people and architecture and writing about her experiences. All of her past experiences are in some way expressed in her art, which is partially why she encouraged JCJC students to live dangerously.
“Live dangerously. When you are comfortable or it’s easy, quit because you are not creating by doing the same stuff. Always make it hard.  It’s not just art but it’s a craft. It should be dynamic and challenging. Push yourselves,” Torres said.
Several cast metal and iron, swamp shacks on stilts were made for a special project, “Homes for Everyone.” Torres explained to students, the importance of having a home became personal, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the economic recession in 2008. I was inspired to create various types of homes, like houseboats and swamp shacks. At times, Torres admitted, it was emotionally draining at times and she had to create something else. Examples of her various homes are on display at JCJC.
Her advice to JCJC students also included how to stay creative. “All artists get stuck creating. Investigate different things you haven’t done, or go back and work on something else. Some pieces are emotionally draining, like my ‘Homes for Everyone’ series. I have to take a break sometimes because it’s difficult to think some people don’t have a home,” said Torres.
Her cabinetmaking experience influenced the wood sculptures, which are actually several pieces put together. Torres said, “Sometimes the wood sculptures become a new sculpture, depending on how I put the pieces together. I learned how latex and polyurethane ages wood while cabinetmaking and through trial and error. I take notes when an experiment fails and that’s how I knew polyurethane age’s pieces.”
“As I look at some of my work, I can see nature influenced my art, perhaps subconsciously. Take this copper tubing and wood block. I hammered the copper tubes and painted the wood and it looks like a sea creature that floats or scurries around. I didn’t know it would stand up without adjusting it.” Torres said.  “To me, these six-foot hollow aluminum metal tubes look like a flower (the stamen and pistils) as it blooms.”
Ultimately, Torres believes artists should push the rules, yet be purposeful in creating art. Be active and focus on how something makes you feel. Portraying a horse can be very artistic, however, she explained, capturing how it makes you feel, brings the piece of art alive.
For more information about the JCJC art show contact the gallery at 601-477-4148 or visit the gallery which is open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., and Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.  The gallery is closed for lunch daily from 11:30 until noon.   


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