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Art & Life with Jenna Refuerzo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenna Refuerzo.

Jenna, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’m not sure I had too much interest in art growing up until I took an art class in high school. As soon I discovered painting I was hooked. It was all I wanted to do. I studied art at UCSD where I earned my bachelor’s degree, but I found the art program there pretty uninspiring and lacking in direction or encouragement. My peers all seemed to view art more as a fun hobby than an actual career path. I never thought of being an artist as something attainable for me at that time, assuming the only thing I could do was end up working at a museum or an art gallery. I continued painting for a year or so after college eventually stopping for a few years, feeling uninspired to make work.

Then about five years ago I met someone who really encouraged me to get back into painting and I haven’t looked back. I’m now more focused than ever on my art and spend most of my spare time painting. I started showing my art recently and am now working on building my portfolio to hopefully be included in more shows and galleries in the future.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I’m primarily a figure painter. I’ve played around with other mediums but there’s something so satisfying about moving paint around a canvas. I’ve always found people to be the most interesting subject in art. Everyone is unique in their own way and there’s just so much you can do with the human form. Recently I’ve been working on a series using physical gestures and poses to create narratives and express different emotions. For instance, a clenched fist or the position of one hand gripping another, to evoke feelings of unease, nervousness, anxiety, etc. My work is very graphic and colorful. I like the juxtaposition of depicting uneasy emotional situations in bright bold colors because I think there’s always more to people than what you see on the surface. Someone can put on a smile and a happy demeanor in public while actively suffering from depression, anxiety, self-doubt. My aim is to create something more stimulating than straightforward portraiture, to create something a little more intimate and revealing. I hope people can find something relatable in my work, and that it moves them in some way, good or bad, maybe even leading them to a bit of self-reflection. If someone can stop to stare at my work for more than a fleeting minute and really engage with the image than I think I’ve done my job.

What responsibility, if any, do you think artists have to use their art to help alleviate problems faced by others? Has your art been affected by issues you’ve concerned about?
I think that artists have a great opportunity, especially with the wide social media followings that many artist possess, to evoke change or express their opinions on current events if that’s what they want to do. Personally, I don’t feel pressured to use my art as a political voice. Maybe that will change in the future, but for now I prefer to focus on subjects that are more personal to me and my immediate life and which I feel will be relevant to a greater audience in time. I think as an artist you just have to make work that you feel strongly about and not worry about whether or not you’re doing enough to highlight the current events in the world. If that’s what drives you as an artist than bravo! Keep at it! But if my art revolved around my feelings towards our current government or the prospect of nuclear war, I would never get any sleep.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
A select portfolio of completed works is available for viewing on my website which I update regularly at www.jennarefuerzo.com and I frequently post work in progress shots on my Instagram @jennarefuerzo. I’m currently working on paintings that will hopefully be included in a show or two this summer, you can follow me on Instagram for updates on that. Many of my paintings are available for purchase, and you can message me through my website or social media if you see something you’d like to add to your collection!

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Image Credit:
Jenna Refuerzo

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