A faint glow of amber. An effervescent hiss. The sound of ancient whale ear bones ringing a carillon of glass bells. These are just some of the features in Jenny Kendler’s exhibition that beckon us into the gallery. Evoking a sense of preciousness, desire, and beauty, and presented in a dramatic fashion, the artist has created a suite of new works that are intended to entice the senses. But this lure has another edge, deeper dimensions: as an interdisciplinary artist, environmental activist, naturalist, and wild forager, Kendler’s wide-ranging practice attempts to “re-story” the relationship of humanity and the natural world. The unexpected materiality of her works raises awareness around ecological issues, climate change, and the threat of extinction.
For this presentation as part of the Artist Project Series, Kendler’s exhibition centers on notions of “value”—how do we assign value and why—and asks us to consider ways of seeing and interacting with the world that go beyond purely economic or transactional valuations. The artist pointedly asks us: “What do we hold precious, and why?” In creating the different “heirlooms and archives” on display, Kendler upends our expectations and invites us to reflect on our own values, and how they impact the health of the planet. For ultimately, these things are intertwined: the acknowledgement of our shared responsibility both to each other and our planet creates a path towards more just societies and sustainable ecosystems.
Jenny Kendler: The Long Goodbye is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University as part of the Artist Project Series and curated by Steven L. Bridges, Associate Curator. Support for this series is provided by the MSU Federal Credit Union.