Interested in communicating ideas of history, place, nature and her own artistic practice, Wolf utilizes materials and techniques that embody the convergence of these concepts. This series anchors on Wolf’s use of natural dyes as a medium with which to stain her canvases. She has honed in on two historically significant colors - cochineal and indigo - and has managed to magically coax out a palette that bursts with vitality and vibrance. Utilizing techniques that require a deep knowledge of the materials she works with, Wolf deftly unites these exalted dyes into transcendent compositions that capture the natural essence of color, elevating painting to the realm of the sublime. The tradition of hand dyeing textiles and fibers is steeped in feminine connotations. By implementing this technique in her practice, Wolf inserts a distinctly female presence into the oft male-dominated realm of abstract painting. Wolf upends the notion of this practice as craft, and elevates it to an artisanal discipline.
An incredibly sacred color, cochineal has been used in Central and South America for thousands of years to color everything from the shields of warriors to the robes of priests, and was valued as much as gold. Derived from the crushed shells of female cochineal beetles, the dye can produce a vast array of vibrant color from bright orange to vivid pink to rich violet. Indigo, the second natural dye that Wolf utilizes in her paintings, was prized in the ancient world - used by the earliest civilizations to color cloths a brilliant blue. In ancient Egypt, the color was revered, and weavers inserted indigo dyed stripes into the borders of linen cloths used to shroud the departed. Every gesture that Wolf makes across the surfaces of her paintings holds traces of the spiritual history of these colors.
Unabashedly beautiful, these paintings explore the elemental nature of color and texture. Wolf keenly controls the flow of her hand-made paints, isolating areas of lacy, textural pattern that overlap spaces of vivid color which blossom across the surface in energetic washes. Wolf’s soaringly gorgeous compositions allude to the natural world in a manner that is both veiled and complex. Henry David Thoreau remarked in 1853 - “I have a room all to myself; it is nature,” - Wolf’s paintings feel like Thoreau’s room, immersive spaces that embrace the viewer in environments that could be under the sea, encased in clouds or inside the faceted walls of a gemstone. Jennifer Wolf is from Ventura, CA. She received her BA in Art History from UCLA and her MFA from Otis College of Art and Design. This is Jennifer’s fourth exhibition with the gallery.