Jenna Gribbon has been painting figuratively for years but feels she is just now coming into a definitive style. Her work adopts elements of the human experience that stem from ancient times as well as experiences specific to our present society. In this breakthrough moment, Gribbon’s paintings have appeared across New York in numerous standout group shows and soon, in an upcoming solo exhibition at Fredericks & Freiser. Gribbon is based in Brooklyn, NY.
You are part of a young generation of female artists hustling and gaining recognition in NYC. What does being a part of a strong female community mean for you?
Honestly my community of women artists is incredibly important to me, and I think of them as a powerful underground force and network of support, but I think most of us would prefer for our gender to not be the focus for others. Ideally gender wouldn’t be a factor in our success or the lack of it.
Which female artists, living or dead, inspire you most?
Karen Kilimnik, Mary Cassatt, Florine Stettheimer, Vija Celmins, Laura Owens, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye I could go on and on.
Have you experienced firsthand the underrepresentation of female artists in the art industry?
Yes of course. It’s unavoidable
Have you noticed a change in opportunities available for female artists since you first entered the art world?
Absolutely. People are aware enough that they’re beginning to be embarrassed about all types of inequality in their rosters. 10 years ago you could still get away with having only one woman. Now dealers and curators are all scrambling to achieve something that’s at least closer to balanced.
If you could change one thing about the current landscape for working female artists what would it be?
I’m also a mother, and there’s still a big hurdle for artists who identify as mothers. It’s changing like everything else, but mothers have to work extra hard to be taken seriously. I love Madeline Donahue’s work for this reason. The way she foregrounds her experience as a mother/artist.
Have you always painted figurative works? When did you come to find the style of painting you currently embrace?
Almost always. I’ve tried to get away from painting people a few moments in my life, but I’m never quite as interested in anything else. The way I approach figuration has been developing for the last 15-20 years, but it’s really only gelled in the last 3 or so. It feels miraculous to finally see so clearly how to approach a subject.
Who are the figures in your works?
Mostly my girlfriend and my son recently, but also friends.
Your work embraces nudity in a way that feels both ancient and yet completely modern. At the same time they that are celebrating the human body, they don’t’ feel too serious. Can you speak on this?
I think I’m funny and I hope that comes across sometimes. But I’m also a person who puzzles over things and I’m a big sap. If you’re really putting yourself in your work then all the parts are going to be in there, and all the parts of any human experience are both ancient and modern, so thanks for saying that. It means you’re seeing the work how I hope for it to be seen.
What’s next for you?
Right now I’m focused on finishing my September show at Fredericks and Freiser. I haven’t committed to anything beyond that in terms of solo shows.
At the end of every interview, we like to ask the artist to recommend a friend whose work you love for us to interview next. Who would you suggest?
Check out Art of Choice’s interview with Haley Josephs here.