On Tuesday, May 2nd, Open Sessions‘ resident Jennifer May Reiland hosted a group of Open Sessions artists at her Williamsburg studio apartment. Jennifer creates large-scale intricate drawings on paper that reflect her personal experience, historical reality, memory, and the mythical past. Her recent series of drawings focus thematically on “The Arena,” a public space where she positions historical figures who have become sacrificial victims. Reiland conducts extensive research on the various mythologies and iconography surrounding these figures, and is interested in the strange pleasure that audiences derive from their situation. Bullfighting is a central overarching narrative metaphor in the work. Conversations during the studio visit focused largely on formal aspects of Reiland’s works and her process, but went on to cover everything from the lives of career bullfighters, to heavier topics such as the Dana Schutz Whitney Biennial controversy and the nature of censorship.
Below are some images and snippets of conversation from the night:
“My larger works take around four months to finish. I try to work exclusively on one piece at a time, and I usually start with a basic geometric outline of the whole composition. For this piece, entitled Princesses, I divided the composition into three sections, one for each historical figure: Princess Diana, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, and the Princesse de Lamballe. Next, I researched each historical figures’ life, for the narrative content of that section. From there I just continued along working in smaller sections. Once the drawing was finished the last step was the watercolor.”
— Jennifer May Reiland
“It’s like the large pieces are a map to your mythology.”
“I like introducing technology as a way of peering into another world. I also like the contrast of rendering technology in two of the slowest, most simple media—drawing and watercolor.”
— Jennifer May Reiland
Reiland brought out some smaller color pencil drawings, which captured everyone’s attention. The drawings incorporated a more vibrant use of color and a loose, painterly technique, very different from her recent drawings, which are incredibly delicate and intricate in their level of detail and subtle coloring.
You can view Jennifer May Reiland’s work on her website.
Or follow her on Instagram: @jennifermayreiland.
— Laina Terpstra, Visitor Services Assistant