We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennyfer Stratman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennyfer, why did you pursue a creative career?
Creativity is something that has been a part of my life since I was very young, so it naturally unfolded to become my career path. Throughout my school and university years, ceramics was my preferred medium. Part way through my Fine Art degree at ASU, my ceramic sculptures were becoming so tall and thin that they were often breaking under their own weight and delicacy. My professor nudged me toward the metal foundry, and I never looked back. By the time I left university I knew I wanted to be a full-time artist. I think I was born a maker, so being in the studio is my happy place. I can’t wait to get in there every day. For me, art and life are integrated, nearly everything I do seems to have an artistic element to it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My artwork is ultimately about connections with the universe, with nature and with each other. I primarily work in metal using cast bronze and steel. I enjoy the contradiction of transforming these hard materials into something delicate, detailed and descriptive. I am represented by galleries in the USA, Canada and Australia and my work is held in public and private collections worldwide. Over the past 20 years I have exhibited in 31 solo and over 100 group sculpture exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Locally, I have just finished a large, bronze wall installation for the new downtown ASU Bio Medical Campus. I am now starting on a public sculpture for the City of Tempe. Public art projects are very exciting and always push my creativity in new directions. Pursuing a career as a full-time artist is so rewarding and certainly comes with challenges. When I first started out after graduating ASU, I knew I had to work very, very hard. This meant not only long hours in the studio but also the “behind the scenes” stuff needed to share my artwork with the world. I think, the biggest lesson really is to have faith in the path you have chosen and work hard to make things happen. To borrow from a passage in the book “The Alchemist” “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one. When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Phoenix has some beautiful mountain areas. To experience and immerse yourself in our desert environment I’d personally head to the South Mountain area and do a hike. There are many longer and shorter options ranging from easy to difficult. Post hike, head to The Farm at South Mountain for lunch in an outdoor setting which is unique and truly Phoenix. The Desert Botanical Garden has a spectacular collection of the Southwest’s most intriguing and engaging desert flora. Set against the backdrop of gorgeous Papago Mountains this gem is well worth a visit. There are a lot of fantastic restaurants in the Phoenix area. A few favorites of mine are House Of Tricks in Tempe and St Francis and Josephine in Phoenix. Phoenix’s First Friday Art Walk is a fun evening downtown experience showcasing downtown artist studios and galleries. Along the way you can stop off at one of the many local bars. For cocktails try the old school vibe at Bitter and Twisted or the vibrant atmosphere at Hanny’s. A stroll along historic Grand Avenue will immerse you in a fascinating collection of local artist studios, boutique shops and interesting people watching. Stop in for a slice at the local’s favorite – Grand Avenue Pizza.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Being a sculptor, and in particular a metal sculptor, often requires a massive team effort. There are so many steps in the creation and presentation of artwork. A shoutout needs to go the foundries and fabrication companies who have helped me here in Arizona and in Melbourne, Australia (where I live and work part of the year), to my studio assistants, to the galleries who represent me and most of all, my family, friends and fellow artists. Without their unwavering support and encouragement my career would look very different.
Davin Lavikka and Paul Marcow