Jennifer BALKAN
Jennifer Balkan (1970)
New Jersey, USA


Although I had drawn all my life, I didn’t embrace my passion to paint until 2001. I grew up in one of the countless suburbs of New Jersey in between the Holland Tunnel and the Jersey Shore which spawned my affection and curiosity for all things carnivalesque. I studied behavioral neuroscience at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. After graduation, I worked my way out west to Seattle after a brief stay in Boulder where I found people not afraid to speak their minds, while I worked in a rat lab. In Seattle, I worked serving the mentally ill and developmentally disabled population. From Seattle, I was pulled to Austin to study Latin American sociology at the University of Texas. I attained my Ph.D. in 2001 after conducting anthropological fieldwork on human migration in Chiapas, Mexico in 1999. Although my experience in Mexico was rich, I longed for artistic creativity. In 2002, I quit my full-time job doing social scientific research and threw myself into oil painting and now paint fervently. I have taken art classes at Laguna Gloria Art School, the Austin Fine Arts School and at the Art Students League in Denver. I continue to find inspiration in many innovative painters who include friends both near and far and my husband Jeff whose extraordinary grace on the guitar has taught me that strength lies in subtlety. My greatest creation is my son Karlo who was born in 2009. I feel incredibly lucky and constantly humbled as I get to see the world through his eyes. I now realize that my time studying the human psyche both psychologically and sociologically must have left its imprint on my brain permanently…because I cannot seem to stray too far from it in my painting.


"My paintings are emotionally-based psychological narratives where the details lie in planes of color. I choose to exaggerate color, in a sense break up a color field into its constituent colors, directing the viewer to particular areas by applying juicy bits of heavily saturated color. I strive to capture emotional states more than anything else, purposefully laying strokes down to create the illusion of an outer physical topography that houses an inner one of the soul. Though it is a cerebral concept that motivates me, the process of painting is superior to all else. Once I begin a painting, my interaction with the panel takes on a life of its own; it transcends whatever I can actually say about the painting once it is finished. Like some kind of meditation, I always hope to remain in this state during the entirety of my painting experience though life's chatter gets in the way at times. When I can exist in that sweet place for much of the time when I am painting, I can say that my work is honest."

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