I make art about the cultural expectations that govern the lives and bodies of women. I question why our society sanctifies the mother, reviles the whore, and refuses to recognize that we are capable of being both at once. The duality of hot glass inspires me with its sensuality, unruliness, and inclination to make one hell of a scene. Using molten fire and a robust pallet of pink kitschy materials, I confront viewers with the uncomfortable realities of modern womanhood. Immersive installations, performances and video act as a safely saccharine lens through which to examine the taboos that infect western girlhood. I disrupt the patriarchal equivalence of the feminine with the frivolous by making provocatively intense work that drips with both challenge and the color pink. The color of blushing lovers, budding cherries, the perfect cupid’s bow of a baby’s mouth, new life and sunsets and sex, pink is present in the moments of sweetness and silliness that make life worth living.
Once upon a time, a little girl lived in a house on a hill between the mountains and the sea, and she was told she could grow up to become anything in the world. This blue-eyed girl was fearless and fierce, with endless imagination and a quick mind, but she was also terribly lonely, because she had only orchard lizards and books to be her friends. One day, the little girl left the house on the hill, and she moved all around the world. In each new home, she tried to make friends, but could never seem to fit in with the other children. The lonely little girl grew into a woman who searched desperately for somewhere to belong. She sought that solace at the bottom of the ocean and soaring through the clouds – she searched through blood and sweat and sex and religion and love. She fit herself into the tiny coffins of other peoples personalities, and learned to smile and laugh and pretend; if she was only a little more quiet, a little less opinionated, had a better haircut, perhaps, she would finally find the family she craved. And then, quite to her surprise, the young woman had two bright-eyed daughters of her own. All of the fierceness that the woman had toned down over the years, all of the passion and fire came rushing back. Flooded with strength and love, she couldn’t remember why it had ever been so important to her to fit in – and she wouldn’t let her daughters grow up in a world where they felt the need to, either. So the blue-eyed girl picked up a pen, and then a paintbrush, and then her own wand of fire. She began to make art – about womanhood, about motherhood, about taboos and double standards and expectations. About the roles we are given – about reminding the world that we never really needed its permission in the first place. And she lived happily – enough – ever after.
(Biography Translation for Those Not Fluent in Fairy-Tale)
Jen Detlefsen is a Virginia-based glass artist, writer, mother, and veteran. Living and traveling abroad have awakened her curiosity about how different cultural taboos exert influence on the lives and bodies of women. Her creative practice is bound by themes of masculine/feminine dichotomy, double standards, motherhood, and literature’s impact on gender roles. Both lover and mother, Jennifer reminds the viewer that her daughters are not the result of immaculate conception, but conceived of the same passion that she pours into her work. Jen is currently attending Virginia Commonwealth University Arts to finish her BFA in Craft and Material Studies. She is a graduate of the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio Assistant Residency and a 2018 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Undergraduate Fellow.