“Humanity is exalted not because we are so far above other living creatures, but because knowing them well elevates the very concept of life.” — E. O. Wilson
Jenny Kendler's work explores human beings' complex relationships with the natural world. She presents her intimate sculptural works, drawings and public projects as a counterpoint to the view of nature as something to be possessed, suggesting instead, it is we who are possessed by nature.
Working at the intersection of art, activism, and the natural sciences, Kendler seeks to complicate the space between 'nature' and 'culture' in order to re-enchant human beings' relationship with the natural world. She asks viewers to reexamine the idea of nature as something outside themselves, making space in their worldview for the radical, transformative otherness on our bio-diverse Earth.
Kendler’s sculptural works and drawings use delicacy, ornamentation and intricacy to echo the subtle and mysterious patterns of the living world. These seemingly fragile works draw viewers in, rekindling feelings of interconnection and wonderment. Seeking to start conversations about the natural world with diverse audiences, Kendler’s practice also spans public projects, sculptural interventions in unexpected locations, fundraising and activism.
Cross-pollinating environmental activism, feminism and a lifelong obsession with exploring the natural world, Kendler seeks to reinvent 'the Naturalist' for the Anthropocene era. She is particularly interested in showing how feminization and 'othering' of the Earth allows for reckless exploitation of natural resources, and how the lack of public consciousness of our own animal-ness props up the artificial separation between human beings and the rest of the living world.
In newer works, Kendler’s investigations into animal consciousness and attempts at non-anthropocentric interspecies relationships hand us a tenuous thread to the these interconnected umwelten or ‘animal-worlds of being’.
Like Joseph Beuys, Kendler feels that artists are tasked to reawaken our innate animal aptitudes and disrupt habituated states of mind. With her practice, Kendler endeavors to help us rediscover these latent animal intelligences and rethink the enculturated 'frame' of human exceptionalism. It is through this that she believes we will continue the vital process of ecological reconciliation — and reclaim an essential part of our humanity.
"If we surrender to earth's intelligence, we could rise up rooted like trees." — Rainer Maria Rilke
[Image below: Interior of Tell it to the Birds where participants confessions to the natural world were 'translated' into bird song.]