06/02/2020 - 10/04/2020
Jennifer Arnold’s – A Layered Space: The Closet and the Bedroom
Listen to the Statement
We were 4 months away from celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary. We both had turned 40 within that year. I, just 12 days prior. I came home from work on a Monday with groceries to the most hurtful news anyone could receive. He left shortly after to never sleep in our bed again. He kept his key, as we were now splitting the mortgage. It took months for the paperwork to finalize. In the meantime, he would enter while I was at my day job, allegedly to gather items and see the dogs. On a Thursday, after my workday had ended, I returned home to find the most jarring scene. The closet, in which we shared together for most of our lives, was suddenly half empty. Hangers dangled like a harrowing wind chime displaying the void. The pain I felt was now visual. It was gut wrenching; my whole identity questioned.
I was left.
I was a 40 year old cliché. A rom-comm, except it was tragic and I was cast as the lead.
In the months that followed, I took that visual and recreated it. This is a symbol of loss.
I was abandoned by friends and embraced by others. My tribe showed up. They lifted me and encouraged my expression. I held the story close, in secret, not wanting to be judged by acquaintances or colleagues. I was ashamed. Hurricane Harvey hit that August. Dear friends and neighbors lost everything. I couldn’t talk about my petty loss.
As the collection emerged, I began to slowly and quietly share and exhibit. The story trickled out and slowly the tears subsided as I focused on the process of artmaking.
Symbolizing time are the dogs. As you enter the room, you are greeted with an altar to my first dog, Basil. She and I became a family when I was 21, she was with me when we met him. She passed in 2011, ten years into my marriage. I made the altar after he left. Next, you will meet Scout as a young pup curled up on his bed below, photographed in 2008. Radar, the black lab, joined the family in 2016, when Scout was 11. You will watch Radar grow up and Scout mature into the big brother role. They stayed with me after the marriage ended and became my life source, the reason to get up every morning.
The windows and lamps in pieces, are from the first house we shared together. The images on the opposite gallery window is my view today.
The rocking chair was once owned by a woman with an almost identical story, except hers included an infant. I adopted that chair 13 years ago when her husband left. It is where she photographed her baby every Thursday.
Intentionally conceived to be an interruption, are the wedding dresses. As one goes through the day, reminders of the pain interject themselves. You may be mindlessly driving to work, choosing the right avocado, or shopping for your garden, then WHAM the movie reel in your head starts playing. Without permission, the memories of the pain demand attention and you scramble for the remote to turn them off. 16 dresses symbolize 16 years of marriage.
This work is a continuation of the original installation “A Layered Space” from 2009. This collection is a unique photographic process I created, The Canvas Peel. Three other pieces from that show are currently on display at La Palmera Mall across from Visionworks: Three French Doors.
Since the original exhibition, my house, and life, are completely different. The installation will continue to evolve here all summer and beyond.
The Canvas Peel was first discovered as an accident. It took over 3 years to master including how to recreate it and control it. As technology evolves and my art practice improves, I must retest and rediscover the method all over again. The process is still secret today.