Weekend Edition: Young Artist Profiles: Miss Jennifer Mills

January 22nd, 2012

bk: So, Jennifer,
From whence did you come? Is there a place that you currently associate with ‘home’?
JM: I was born in England which is fun to say, but mostly grew up in Minnesota. My current home is in Chicago.

bk: Is it safe to say that you are part comedian/performance artist and part performative/visual artist?
JM: Saying that is a little risky! I like to think that my work as a comedienne, and my work as a “fine artist” are all part of the same soup. My comedy scratches my art’s back and vice verse.

A good example is a project I just finished in November where I set up a functioning parody of a commercial art gallery. I played a “Mary Boone-esqe” character and sold artwork for $10. The project functioned due to the parody, but also relied very much in the art world context.

bk: What is your relationship to work by these “Relational Aesthetic” artists we’ve been seeing about town recently?
JM: In the recent wave of relational aesthetics- inspired work, I am interested on keeping a critical eye on the motivation and impact of interactive work. I find that humor allows for a more realistic, effective connection in the fleeting moments that exchange based work facilitates. I am however in debt to artists like Rirkrit Tiravanija, and naturally Nicolas Bourriaud who opened my eyes to a new way of making and thinking about work and the viewer.

bk: Do you gain personal fulfillment out of making/enacting your work?
JM: Sure I do! I always hope that it somehow does more than that. I struggle with the possible selfish motivations that are out there in the A world.

bk: Do you have any words of wisdom for us cultural omnivores who may tend to get bored with a lot of the artwork out there?
JM: I make a habit of seeing good comedy. If you are lucky enough to hear the writing a smart and confident comedian, you remember that opening your eyes to something of cultural significance doesn’t need to be dull!
There is a weird fiber supplement called Metamucil which is this unsightly brown powder that turns to a murky mud you mix into a drink. It seams like there are a million other way better ways to get fiber. Is this metaphor landing? I do a million things that I think might have art vitamins hidden in them, like reading about how trees grow, drinking a glass of vinegar*, going ice skating or reading a particularly funny tabloid cover to cover. An accumulation of such things helps me identify what artwork is worth my time.
*This activity may be dangerous

bk: What do you think Art Administrators have to offer you?
JM: EVERYTHING! It is such a huge pillar of support to know there is someone who is willing to help you in securing things that are beyond your jurisdiction. As a scrappy artist, I have gotten so used to doing everything on my own, even things outside of my comfort zone. When I am lucky enough to work with a talented administrator it feels like the whole process of making work looses a hundred pounds.

bk: What was your first memory of art (in any form) that piqued your interest?
JM: I drew a perfect heart in the back seat of my Mom’s Volvo when I was really little. The window was open and it blew out when I was done. Loosing that masterpiece haunted me, I was devastated! I never thought I would ever draw something so perfect again. I don’t think I have yet.

bk: Once you gave me a hand written check – the background image was an illustration you had submitted as a child. Do your parents still order these checks?
JM: Oh yeah. I wrote my rent check on one this month.

bk: What does the world need today, more than ever?
JM: Love sweet love…. It’s the only thing, that there’s just too little of.

bk: Well said Jennifer. Thank you for sharing your time and your gift of entertainment.

Jennifer Mills holds an MFA in Studio/Performance Art from the Art Institute of Chicago; was a Summer Resident of the Sullivan Gallery Residency and the Oxbow School of Art; as well as taking part in performances with the Leotard Foundation, Baby Wants Candy, Second City Training Center, and Infinite Sundaes.
or more on Jennifer Mills visit: jennifermills.org

Originally published on www.bonniekate.com