Jennifer Crupi, A’95
Note: This interview was originally published in the July 2012 edition of the CUAA Newsletter.
Jennifer Crupi A’95 received her MFA from SUNY, The College at New Paltz followng her studies at the Cooper Union. Her work has been shown in over fifty national and international exhibitions including exhibits at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York City, Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, and upcoming in the summer of 2012, the Renwick Gallery/Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC. Jennifer has won various awards including two New Jersey State Council of the Arts Individual Artist Grants in 2012 and 2005, and a Peter S. Reed Foundation Grant in 2010. Her work has been published in Metalsmith Magazine, 500 Necklaces and 500 Brooches by Lark Books, among others. Jennifer is an Associate Professor at Kean University, Union, NJ where she has taught and headed the metals program since 1999.
Q: Tell us about your current artistic practice.
My artwork addresses the ways we communicate with each other visually, through body language. Hand crafted of aluminum or sterling silver, these interactive objects become instruments for gestural behavior. The works also reflect my fascination with the design and aesthetic of medical and scientific tools, their reference to the body, and the juxtaposition they create with the naturalistic, human form.
An old proverb rightfully claims, Actions speak louder than words. Although our body movements may be mute to the ears, they are inevitably far more revealing than the spoken word that often disguises. My interest in the voice of our actions and the psychology behind why we do the things we do, drives my work. By viewing and interacting with the work, I seek to make us look at ourselves and ponder the underlying reasons for our seemingly casual gestures.
“Ornamental Hands: Figure One (Shown worn),sterling silver, acrylic, inkjet print on vellum, 15″ x 8.5″ x 5.5”
Q: How has your time as a student at Cooper Union impacted your work?
Cooper’s philosophy of a broad, interdisciplinary approach to fine arts education provided me with a fantastic foundation to build upon. It wasn’t until I went to graduate school for my MFA in Jewelry/Metals that I realized not all institutions shared this unique approach. The first project I conceived necessitated using facilities outside of the metals shop, however each studio was for majors of that area only and obtaining permission to use another studio was difficult and not always possible. Having both the knowledge of how to work in a variety of media, and the freedom to execute an idea in whatever material suits it best is invaluable to an artist. Now a professor myself, I often reflect upon my Cooper education and use those experiences to help inform curricular changes and my own professional practice at Kean University, where I teach.
“Power Gesture” (Shown worn), aluminum, steel, acrylic, painted wood, laser print, vellum, 8″ x 8″ x 6″
Q:What have been some recent exhibits or projects?
From January 20, 2012 to March 8, 2012, I had a solo exhibition of my work at the Lawrence Art Center, Lawrence, Kansas entitled, The Articulate Body.
From February 4 to March 24, 2012, I juried the exhibition Refined VII: Inspiration, at the Cole Art Center, Reavley Gallery, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas. I also exhibited one of my works as the juror’s piece and gave a visiting artist lecture about my work.
From December 9, 2011 thru March 4, 2012, my work was included in the group exhibition, Fresh, at the National Ornamental Metal Museum, Memphis, TN. This exhibit featured the works selected for the Exhibition in Print issue of Metalsmith Magazine.
40 under 40: Craft Futures at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. I was one of 40 artists selected from over 2000 considered for this exhibition that will celebrate the Renwick’s 40th anniversary as an institution. Â The artists included in the exhibition originate from every region of the United States and five countries. The museum also intends to acquire works by every artist for the permanent collection. An accompanying book by Curator Nicholas Bell will be published by Yale University Press. The exhibition runs from July 20, 2012 to February 3, 2013 and is slated to tour nationally.
My work was also included in the book, Humor in Craft by Brigitte Martin, published by Schiffer in 2012. A companion exhibition will be on view at the Society of Contemporary Craft in Pittsburg, PA from July 20 thru October 27, 2012.
“Unguarded Gestures 3,” aluminum, painted wood, acrylic, 28″ x 18″ x 13″
Q: Are there any Cooper alumni artists who have had an influence on your art?
My early work as an undergraduate was based on mechanical movement and stemmed from my interest in making jewelry that is interactive that doesn’t merely sit on the body in one fixed way but can constantly be manipulated and transformed (in size, shape or function) by the wearer. Chuck Hoberman’s expandable structures were particularly inspiring for me at the time. And what a surprise when he ended up being our year’s commencement speaker!
Also, my husband, Christian Luis, A’95 has had a direct impact on my work through his invaluable feedback and support over the years!
Q: What upcoming projects are you working on?
I was recently awarded a 2012 New Jersey State Council of the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship. I am particularly honored to have received this, as it is my second NJSCA award (I also received one in 2005). During this coming year, I plan to use the grant funding to continue a new series of works I have started called Ornamental Hands. This series is a slight departure from my previous work as it references the elegant hand positions often seen in artworks throughout the centuries. Each work consists of splint-like attachments for the fingers that are suspended by chains and braced on the wrist, positioning the hands marionette style. However, instead of revealing to the viewer the meaning behind the gesture like in previous works, here I am exploring gesture as ornament. The resulting works will be a play on precious jewelry, but the real decorative ornament will be the gesture. Rather than wearing a bracelet to adorn your hand, why not wear a bracelet that positions your hand in a decorative and elegant way? The splint/marionette-like aesthetic also reinforces the idea of training the hand to rest in this graceful manner. I have recently finished the second in this series and am planning on creating the third this summer.