How does an artist depict someone who's too familiar, or a stranger, someone no longer living, or whom they've never seen? These scenarios continue to draw her through a variety of mediums, all the while speaking to a single, recognizable pursuit: to know, and to know well.
Jenn Cacciola is a NYC-based artist and educator originally hailing from Port Chester, NY. Through its documentary and research-based process, Jenn’s work becomes a home for pain. Pieces become places where people can be with the pain of others. This form creates a way of being with pain that's sometimes easier to do than when in front of the person whose pain it is. Various levels of successful communication within her own relationships inform some of the specific questions in her work: How do you accompany another in their pain? Can pain only inspire dwelling? Can wonder exist in pain? Her work makes the claim that pain is worth listening to and worth being the soundtrack to forests, snow, interiors, faces, etc. She allows pain to have a comfortable place to be around people.
Isolation, aging, vulnerability, and the ways in which all of these factors affect our ability to know one another serve as a few recurring themes. Though her earlier work related more directly to portraiture, she currently utilizes a kind of anthropomorphism to answer the question, “What are the criteria of a portrait?” Can a portrait be found in stones and leaves? Can a portrait be present in the way that a piece hangs or sits in a gallery—Quivering and small, brought out from the little studio into a big, unfamiliar space? Unlike in most comparable subjects, permission and patience play key roles in the making and viewing of a portrait. Many of Jenn’s works therefore address viewers individually, sometimes imposing themselves or calling to viewers in a way that physically establishes an almost private relationship between the piece and its visitor. They induce the experience of listening deeply, as she views her artistic position as being a listener. This position directs her adoption of each new medium depending on the voice of each project. For this reason, her work touches on a multitude of mediums and subjects, with an identifying tactility and stillness that is common throughout. Her pieces generally take form in tapestry, sculpture, painting, and installation—sometimes involving audio components. Her current endeavors include large-scale, layered, textured tapestries involving audio interviews.
Jenn received a Bachelor of Science in Visual Arts from SUNY Purchase School of Art + Design. She has exhibited in various New York venues and has been awarded Artist-in-Residence positions at the Sheen Center For Thought & Culture in Manhattan, NY and Manassas National Battlefield Park in Manassas, VA. Her works can be found in the National Parks Foundation’s public collection and in private collections within the United States and Europe. She has most recently joined the governing body of Openings Artist Collective. Jenn is currently the Chair of the Art Department and Studio Arts Teacher for Grades 9-12 at St. Joseph High School in Brooklyn. She has previously taught Art in Brooklyn PreK-8 private schools, and worked as an Art Educator with the New-York Historical Society, the NARS Foundation, and Wingspan Arts. She has also assisted in art forensic and conservation projects for collections at the Hispanic Society of America Museum, PepsiCo Sculpture Garden, and TONDO Art Forensics Lab in Budapest, Hungary.