The Heroine’s Journey of Jennifer Weigel

What is the best thing that I love about my work?
Art is my life.  I love human creativity and expression.  I love to communicate with others through my work and to see and hear their stories.  It is about human connection and passion.
What is my idea of perfect happiness?
I’m most content when I am chilling out with my boyfriend and cat at home, reading together or just enjoying each other’s company.  Or hanging out with my best friend doing whatever.  I enjoy going to shows as well, and surrounding myself with art, theater, music in pretty much any context.  And I love thrift shopping and antiquing and hunting for treasures.
What is my greatest fear?
I have ongoing struggles with social phobia due to fear of judgment by others.  I have trained myself to counter this in my art and life by acting opposite of my desire to limit interaction.  Having done so at length over time, I am much more able to manage my fear and put things in perspective, and it has taught me empathy and that we are all more alike than different.  Often I act so absurdly opposite of my fears that others don’t realize I struggle, and I have been called “fearless” on numerous occasions for being so extreme in this (true courage comes from acting despite fear, not without it though).
What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?
I wish I didn’t have such a strong sense of needing purpose or of making a difference; it creates a lot of discontent because I keep wanting to see more and to do more and become workaholic.  I am never satisfied with my own involvement despite spreading myself too thin.
Which living persons in my profession do i most admire?
I love art and surrounding myself with artists of all levels and abilities.  There aren’t really any particulars and most whom I would name aren’t widely known.  I respect Yoko Ono’s continued ability to reinvent herself and stay relevant.  I admire Iris Apfel’s fashion sense.  Sadly many of my greatest known influences upon my work have passed away, often too young.
What is my greatest extravagance?
Buying almost anything not on sale, especially new clothes or shoes.  I’m especially frugal and tend to buy a lot used, so anything new feels extravagant.  I do buy a lot of art but that never feels as extravagant to me unless it is notably costly.
 
On what occasion would I lie?
I can be brutally and painfully honest, but I also realize that not everyone needs or wants to know everything at any given point.  Some things are just better left unspoken and don’t benefit anyone, especially those speaking and those being talked at.  Learning to just listen when that is all that is needed or asked of you is a virtue.
What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?
The idea that passion is too easily devalued, that many who are passionate about helping others or making a difference are severely underpaid for the work that they do, especially in care-taking and teaching.  The concept of “labor of love” creates its own struggles and limits and weakens cultural and community humanity and empathy because that sort of work isn’t as respected or compensated as it could be.
When and where was I the happiest, in my work?
I am happiest in my work and life now.  I am working at a job which is community driven, integrating both art and social engagement, and it is a blessing to be able to work with artists of such varied abilities to help them come into their own successes and to earn money from their work.
If I could, what would I change about myself?
I am deeply sensitive, too much so sometimes, and the world can seem very overstimulating.  I struggle with deep existential depression from this, desperately seeking purpose, and often I wish it was easier for me to just let be.  Contentedness doesn’t come naturally to me.  But every curse is also a blessing and vice versa and, after years spent in coming to a place of self acceptance, I wouldn’t change anything.
What is my greatest achievement in work?
I am very grateful for the opportunity to connect with others and to create opportunities for conversation through my art, especially regarding sensitive and difficult topics and taboos such as women’s reproductive health and menstruation.  I often engage in this sort of art-making in ways that opens the floor to different points of view and ideas instead of simply offering my own perspective.  In doing so, I strive to foster more meaningful discourse across groups that may or may not otherwise converse because silence can reinforce stigmatization.
Where would I most like to live?
I am very happy where I am.  There is a great sense of community here, and more diversity than many who don’t know the region would expect.  I had once thought I wanted to be in Portland, OR but have since found a greater sense of home here, having lived in a larger city and determining that I’m not really a city mouse.
What is my most treasured possession?
My house.  It is the first place I’ve been able to truly call my own, and just my own.  Everything about it has been considered to make it very much a home, and very markedly mine, including the art collection, furnishings, dishes, linens, etc..
What is my most marked characteristic?
I am very persistent.  I will keep pushing and keep trying for things even in the face of rejection.  I am also very accepting; I strive to be nonjudgmental and welcoming towards others.
What is my most inspirational location, in my city?
I moved here for the sense of community and for the people more than for the place.  I had been very impressed with and continue to be involved in the Carriage Factory Art Gallery, which is a top notch art gallery.  And we have some great antique and thrift stores.
What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?
There are a lot of interesting places here.  There’s a small buffet restaurant called Breadbasket that is cozy and has good home cooking style food and hearty soups.  There’s my favorite Mexican restaurant Casa Fiesta.  There’s a great pizza joint Back Alley Pizza.  The chain fast food Braum’s ice cream restaurant and dairy is very good.  And Druber’s Donut Shop makes awesome donut holes.  I don’t get out a whole lot though, I tend to eat in a lot more.
What books influenced my life and how?
One of my favorite books of all time from childhood is Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like, by Jay Williams and illustrated by Mercer Mayer.  It implores one not to take things at face value, not to judge or assume, to remain humble, and to take care of one another.
Who are my favorite writers?
Shel Silverstein and his children’s poetry have always been long term favorites.  There is also an audio recording of him reading many of his poems that is truly delightful.
You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?
I love a lot of different kinds of music but always find myself returning to Elliott Smith.
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?
I have always been drawn to Persephone of Greek mythology and have also identified with Shakespeare’s Ophelia from Hamlet.  The Last Unicorn strongly resonated with me from a heroine’s journey standpoint, identifying with the unicorn’s struggles and coming to know and understand herself and place in the world, with and without others of her kind, and the confusion she feels and overcomes as Lady Amalthea, along with Molly Grue as a strong secondary female character.
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?
Most of my heroes and heroines are very much everyday people who act behind the scenes without recognition or acknowledgement in order to help others, especially those who are actively involved in developing and fostering community.  I am involved in a group that fosters relationships and intentional friendships to help people to improve their lives in meaningful ways and strive to get out of poverty.  Many of my heroes and heroines are involved in projects like this and don’t need or want to receive a lot of outward attention or acknowledgment for their efforts.
Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime?
I don’t watch a lot of movies.  My favorite has always been Joe Versus the Volcano.  I recently saw Ready Player One, which I greatly enjoyed and would highly recommend.
What role plays art in my life and work?
Art is my life and is at the center of my spiritual being.  I live, eat, breathe, sleep it.  I collect art: I rescue it from thrift stores and antique shops; I purchase it from artists I meet out and about on my travels; I trade it with friends.  I eat off of handmade ceramic dishes and drink from handmade ceramic mugs.  There is not a day that passes in which art is not an integral part of my life.
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?
I have had numerous partners in crime over the course of my lifetime but the most recurring is my best friend from grade school Laurel.  She has been with me through thick and thin and is very much a soul sister to me.
Whom would I like to work with in 2018?
I am open to the possibility of collaboration wherever it arises, if it proves possible.
Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2018?
There have been several artists with whom I’ve corresponded through mail art that I would like to meet someday, as well as others whom I have sent performance scores to.  I enjoy meeting people from all walks of life, especially those passionate about art.
What project, in 2018, am I looking forward to work on?
It’s not directly tied to my career, but my boyfriend and I are working on moving in together.  We are acquiring a second house to use as an art studio and hangout space so we can share my home as primary residence.
Where can you see me or my work in 2018?
I exhibit my art all over and am 1 state away from being able to say my work has been shown in all 50 states in the US.  I participated in a public art project Totos Around Town happening in Wamego KS with “It’s All About the Shoes”.  I have a solo show of nature photography coming up at the Carriage Factory in July and another coming up at the McPherson Library in September.
What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?
I you are living your passion it is the whole of your being, your essence and your life.  That never retires.  However, there is no reason one cannot reshape it to other forms or jump through fewer hoops as one sees fit and is able.  Passions evolve.
Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?
Wow, I have several whom I’d recommend for different foci:
Cathi Schwalbe is a wonderful community collaborator.
Mary Campbell & Viv Vassar celebrate the joy and spirit in art and life.
Lauryn Welch has a strong sense of self and vibrancy of character.
And Brenda Be creates amazing immersive experiences in and through AFHI.
How can you contact me?
You can learn more about my work and contact me through my websites:
Fine Art Painting, Photography and Jewelry: http://www.jenniferweigelart.com/
Conceptual Art Projects: http://www.jenniferweigelprojects.com/
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