Contemporary artist: Jenna Williams
I photographed contemporary artist and painter Jenna Almond Williams on a cold, sunny morning in her beautifully lit studio. Paintbrushes and paint were neatly organized throughout the small space along with leaned stacks of painted canvases, rolls of drawings, pictures of her children, potted plants and interesting trinkets. Jenna’s tidy studio sits in the basement of the mid century modern styled home she shares with her architect husband and two daughters. Jenna is an art instructor at the Art Students League of Denver and her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions throughout Denver. Her warm and unassuming nature combined with a noticeable desire to live with meaning and intention is enough to make you want to stay for a cup of hot tea. Jenna pursued a fine art degree at Colorado State University including an inspiring study abroad stint in Florence, Italy.
During our photo session, Jenna painted a bright amaryllis in stunning reds, corals, and white. We talked about the challenges of making time to create while juggling family life, how social media has changed the way art is shared, and the story behind the vintage smock she religiously wears when she paints. It was her grandmother’s old house coat.
Jenna’s body of work is diverse and her talent for both abstract and figurative art is palpable. Like many creatives, she’s reflective, open minded and eager to share how art has impacted her life.
In your artist statement you describe the nature of abstract creation:
The beauty and challenge of working abstractly is that the outcome is never certain. The result is always an accumulation of choice, accident and consequence.
You describe it so beautifully, almost spiritually, that it takes trust and/or faith to pursue. Tell me more about that.
There is a lot of what you might call faith in creating art. I find myself in a fine balance with control during the creation of a piece. My best art usually comes from taking risks - which means at some point I have to have some faith and step into my fear.
Though painting has been your area of concentration, you’ve worked in a range of mediums including drawing, printmaking and fiber arts. What is especially interesting to you lately and what other mediums are you interested in exploring more in the future?
I have a particular passion for learning new processes and working with different media. At the moment I am looking forward to pursuing some sculptural work. A couple of ideas at the moment involve wood carving and glass slumping. I have always been drawn to working with metal as well. Who knows what will come up next. I believe it is important to let the nature of the concept drive the medium.
You’ve been a teacher of the arts for a big portion of your career, is that something you see yourself doing in the long run?
I really enjoy working with others and teaching art. It inspires my own work and challenges my creativity. I do see myself always engaged in teaching in some way. Just recently I was accepted into the Boettcher Teacher Residency program. I am excited to expand my knowledge as a teacher and continue to understand how best to reach others through art.
How do you stay inspired to create new work?
Learning new processes and working with different materials always lights a fire for me. The potential to expand techniques allows for fresh ideas and concepts to have a new conduit in which to be communicated. I liken it to learning a language. Every time you come across a new word it opens up the potential for a more rich expression of your ideas.
What do you want your kids to know about your life as an artist?
The most important thing for me is that my girls see me doing something that I love and am passionate about. Making art is how I process thoughts and feelings related to life experience. I hope they are able to find space in their own lives to connect with themselves and the world around them in a way that is meaningful to them. And I hope that making time in my life to do what makes me feel deeply connected serves as a positive example.