Meet JENNIFER Renée Caden MERDJAN
Yes, you read that correctly. I have two middle names, Renée and Caden. These middle names actually weren’t given to me at the time of birth! They are my two grandmother’s first names. There is a unique anecdote behind why I got these names and how late in my life I found about them. There are stories to be told everywhere!
I love stories, especially visual narratives–writing and illustrating children’s books, collaborating with other artist and poets to make artist books. My first book If Shoes Could Talk combines my interest in Artist Books and Recycled Art. If Shoes Could Talk contains colorful pages which place inspiring messages next to my shoe sculptures. In these works, ordinary shoes and odd objects are recycled, repurposed and transformed into faces, animals and sculptures. Like much of my artwork and teachings, this book attempts to help others; through it’s message, and also by joining forces and collaborating with non-profit agencies for fundraising, donations and interactive exhibits.
Working with recycled materials is a prominent method in my work. I’ve utilized remnants of old furniture, windows, shoes, toys, and common everyday items that one might discard to create both two-dimensional and three-dimensional artwork. Working with these materials emphasizes the passage of time (past, present and future) another prevalent narrative in my artwork.
There are various artistic influences through history that inspire both my two dimensional art and design work. These include movements such as the Vienna Secession, Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts, Impressionism, Pop Art and Bauhaus; and artist such as Alphonse Mucha, Eugene Grasset, Gustav Klimt, Alice Neel, Monet, Van Gogh, and David Hockney.
Connected to these movements and my love for design, I enjoy typography–exploring the space between and around the letters, and how fonts and symbols can visually speak.
Space in three dimensional works have been inspired by sculptures by Picasso, Brancusi, Giacometti, Giambologna, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Claes Oldenburg and architects Antoni Gaudi, Frank Llyod Wright, Frank Ghery and Calatrava.
It’s good to find beauty and inspiration in a vast array of works from different time periods and make connections where others might disassociations.
Most days you can find me creating:
Artwork either on my own, with my art students, or my two beautiful daughters.
Artist Books and Chap Books with my partner Michael who is a French literature and language professor, academic writer, and poet.