Artist Jennifer Campbell takes viewers on a journey away from reality

Artist Jennifer Campbell takes viewers on a journey away from reality

Williamsport Sun Gazette | November 6, 2014


Sun-Gazette Correspondent

In the Greek epic poem The Odyssey, Odysseus and his men encountered a group of people during their travels who survived by eating a lotus plant that grew on their island.

This lotuses kept the people happy, sleepy and distracted from any worries, and when Odysseus’s men ate some, they too became apathetic.

In the oil paintings of Jennifer R.A. Campbell, this similar theme is explored, described by Campbell as “the attraction of wanting to leave reality and worldly cares, and the perils of this withdrawal,” and “the conflict between the external world and the world of the imagination.”

In an upcoming show titled “Lotus Eaters,” 22 of Campbell’s paintings will be on display at the Gallery at Penn College from Nov. 14 to Dec. 14, with a reception on Thursday, Nov. 20 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The reception will include a gallery talk with Campbell and will give visitors the opportunity to ask her questions.

“It is an amazing space – I’m really thrilled to have the opportunity to show there,” Campbell said.

Campbell, a Canadian-born artist, says that her life has always involved some sort of art. “I don’t know how to do anything else. I don’t remember ever not doing art,” she said.

She received a B.A. in both sociology and art history, and then went on to receive formal art training at the Ottawa School of Art. Although she has worked in oil paints for 20 years, she started working professionally in the medium five years ago.

After extensive planning, writing and observing, Campbell photographs models in the poses that she wants the subjects of her paintings to assume, often finding new approaches to her paintings through the models’ interpretation of her ideas.

“This is fantastic because painting is such a solitary activity–this is the only part in the creation process that is interactive and the only thing I can‘t completely control,” Campbell said

Her paintings depict characters “from both the leisure class and the fringes of society,” in realistic, rich oil tones. Much of her work draws from cinema and contemporary advertisements, giving her paintings a realistic yet cinematic look.

“I am fascinated by storytelling,” Campbell writes on her website. “Humans have created a complex set of symbols and signs, which fill every aspect of our lives with meaning. We tell ourselves and others stories every day in order to create and manage this meaning, and to interpret the world and our place in it.”

While her paintings can be interpreted as commentary on the absurdity of humanity, or as a variety of different stories, Campbell’s true intention is to leave the interpretation up to each individual viewer–to create a dialogue, rather than a statement.

“The moment I sketch the painting out on canvas, I don’t feel like it ‘belongs’ to me anymore. The image is now an object that exists outside of my head,” she said. “And that’s a pleasure in making art. At that moment, I can be an onlooker too, and so my interpretation changes.”

Penny Lutz, manager of the Gallery at Penn College, said that the decision to show Campbell’s pieces was partly because they were beautifully rendered, but also because of the unique narrative contained within each work.

“I believe gallery patrons will be impressed by the paintings, and will also want to spend time with the work, creating their own storylines for each piece.” she said.

Campbell also hopes that patrons of her exhibit will enjoy the paintings.

“I would really like them to have fun, if you can use that word for art viewing,” she said.

Samples of Campbell’s works and information about her can be found on her website,


Jennifer Campbell Art
Original publication (click to view larger)

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