Briefly describe the work you do.
I use video to interpret and convey my experiences as an explorer. These expeditions can be near or far, planned or spontaneous, but with the intention of relaying experience and culture through the filter of a lens, of a computer application, of a storage device and of a screen. My work intentionally explores places and subjects that are familiar, even prosaic, but reinterpreted with a combination of personal experience and technology.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
During my childhood my family moved from my birthplace, New York, to Nebraska and then again to Southern California. My parents exposed my brother and I to travel and to culture outside of our given communities. My varied background, along with exposure to adaptability at a very young age, instilled a curiosity to explore. As an undergrad I studied Art History and Religious Studies then received an MFA in Set Design from UCLA. Rather than attending graduation I went to NYC to find a place to live. During the summer of 2001 I relocated to Brooklyn and lived there for 11 years. Early in 2006 while exploring an empty lot in Long Island City I was inspired to document the experience and have since been making videos. My freelance job, a passion for early modern architecture and the love of spacious movie theaters brought me back to Los Angeles where I currently reside.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My practice requires me to get out into the world and interact with it. There is focused intention when I’m in a physical “studio” space editing my footage, but gathering images is spontaneous and can be inspired by the time of day as much as by happenstance.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Living in Brooklyn and witnessing the dramatic shifts in the landscape of the city inspired me to spend time gathering imagery from locations in flux. As with old photographs, revisiting places that have changed to accommodate these shifts can often bring back memories and emotions associated with the past. This makes me feel that in some ways my work contributes to the documentation of lost places and spaces.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
Editing always seems to take place at the end of my day. After work and personal obligations, after cleaning up and eating dinner, I sit down and work on projects. As for the explorative side of my practice, this is usually outside of my daily routines, either while traveling or on the weekends. I’m often inspired by unexpected and unfamiliar places.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
Moving from New York to Los Angeles has made my work much quieter, my editing tendencies are much less frenetic, likely a reflection of my newer surroundings. I see a major shift when, about 6 months after I moved to the West Coast, I attended an artist residency in Wyoming. The work moved closer to a place of contemplation and observation rather than a reaction to society, pop culture and the sensory overload of a New York lifestyle.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
I am an American and I believe that my work looks and feels it is derived from the values and culture of the United States. I have a profound love of art but can be equally inspired by long hikes, unexpected markets or the snarky comment of a teenage girl. I mentioned how my family’s exposure to culture and my parents ability to pick up and move without fear has deeply influenced me as an artist and as a person.
Pop Art, popular culture and the urban environment also contribute because utilizing familiar references helps me to connect with my audience. In my work I often revisit Stanley Kubrick’s soundtracks, consider the repetition of Target ads and welcome the familiarity of The Catcher in the Rye. Wagner Opera’s and Wooster Group performances motivate me to consider all media as relevant, especially the pervasive sounds and sights of living in the city.
The artist Kelly McLane has had a profound influence on my work as an artist and on my person. She is a very close friend, a mentor and an inspiration. I hold her in the highest regard and profoundly respect her as a person and as an artist.
I would not be pursuing any creative endeavors if it wasn’t for Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”, a book assigned to me as a freshman in college.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
My income is earned in by working as a set designer for photography. I find it allows me to flex my creative muscle just enough to keep me satisfied in my “day job” while providing the freedom and the time necessary for me to continue to pursue my own creative endeavors. Essentially, I enjoy working as a set designer because it is challenging and the jobs I work on are always different. In my work I’m required to learn new things and interact with all kinds of professionals and purveyors which is actually quite fun. If I didn’t work as a designer I’ve imagined myself as a librarian but, I’m afraid, in 2014 this is much different than the fantasy of working amongst stacks of books!
Jennifer Revit was born in Queens, New York then moved to a small farming community outside of Omaha, Nebraska when she was 6. After elementary school, her family relocated to Southern California where she spent her adolescence. Upon graduating from the University of Denver with a degree in Art History and minors in Religious Studies and Business, Jennifer moved to Los Angeles where she worked in galleries then earned an MFA from UCLA in Set Design. Rather than attending graduation she went to NYC to find a place to live and during the summer of 2001 she relocated to Brooklyn and lived there for 11 years. Early in 2006 while exploring an empty lot in Long Island City she was inspired to document the experience and has since been making videos. Her freelance job, a passion for early modern architecture and the love of spacious movie theaters brought her back to Los Angeles where she currently resides. For the past 18 years I have been working as a creative collaborator to earn a living while concurrently developing my own personal artistic vision. While on a bike ride in early in 2006, I discovered a small plot of undeveloped land in Queens and was inspired to document the experience through video.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.