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Artist-in-residence set to disturb

Jason Penney's work Survival Kit was featured in a 2010 exhibition at St. John's Eastern Edge Gallery.


By Janet Harron

If, as George Braque said, “the function of art is to disturb,” then the Memorial University community should prepare itself for a major disturbance.

The 2011 artist-in-residence, Jason Penney, identifies himself as a multimedia artist but that label doesn’t begin to describe his recent body of work. These works include: Survival Kits, portable homes built out of rebuilt garbage “for drag queens and queers after the apocalypse”; and Delivery, a project that serves several mummified chicken burgers to God using various methods of launching them (the chicken burgers) into the heavens.

Mr. Penney builds objects that “celebrate an eventual destruction, by corrupting symbols of luxury into cheapness” and says that “as an artist living in this society, my work not only speculates at society’s eventual destruction, it gorges on the trivial excesses we constantly blame for its fate.”

Originally from St. John’s, Mr. Penney obtained a bachelor of fine art from the Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design and has recently returned from Edinburgh where he completed a master’s at the Edinburgh College of Art. The committee formed by the Faculty of Arts’ Graduate Program in Humanities who unanimously picked him as this year’s artist in residence call his work “beautiful, thought-provoking and interpretive,” highlighting the fact that his work “offers ideas, which is what an artist in residence is here for.”

Mr. Penney’s work has been exhibited at the Eastern Edge Gallery and a number of his works have been procured for the permanent collection at The Rooms. The art gallery at The Rooms will be mounting an exhibit of his work in May 2011.

His art is all related through the ups and downs of the personal and the everyday. Taking in the stimuli from his daily life and incorporating it into his work, now, with Memorial about to be part of his daily life, he is looking forward to whatever inspiration the university might provide for him.

Jason Penney will be available for individual consultations throughout his term as artist-in-residence and can be contacted through the Faculty of Arts’ Graduate Program of Humanities or by calling 864-6727. His office is located in FM 2005.