Jennifer Nehrbass

Text JF. Pierets    Artwork Jennifer Nehrbass


Someone once wrote that she was dismantling the roles and stereotypes of beauty and femininity, examining the psychology that leads women to go to extremes to maintain beauty and style.  Needless to say that our brain got tickled so we checked on some of her thoughts.


On habitat.
I love living in New Mexico. It may seem cliché but the light is dramatic and the landscape boundless. The contrasts of people and their culture are always inspiring. We are at the center of the oldest cultures in the USA with the ancestral pueblo people, but we are also the birth place of the atomic bomb. One has the ability to isolate when necessary and engage with culture when inspired to do so.

On technique.
The photorealistic aspect occurs primarily with the figures in the painting. I choose to have them painted this way to represent the physicality of being alive. We can pinch our skin and know we are physically here. The physical aspect to life is tangible. To contradict the tangible I place figures within abstract areas that refer to the thoughts desires, dreams and perceptions of life. The viewing of my work is meant to be a push and pull exercise between these differing painting styles.

On women.
A lot of my older work dealt with the experience of being a woman in contemporary society. They were primarily self- portraits, with homage to Cindy Sherman. Since that is my gender I felt the critique was a more honest. My experiences as a woman are not unique. The more personal I explored the more universal the paintings became. Currently I am working on paintings that incorporate both genders, which I find to be liberating to the process.


‘I try to reexamine how women are portrayed both in current culture and throughout art history.’

On stereotypes.
I try to reexamine how women are portrayed both in current culture and throughout art history. I am interested in expressing what it feels like to be held up to current ideals of beauty. I create narratives that illustrate a woman’s experience using emotions such as humor, fear, or melancholy.  What other thoughts, desires or contributions are ignored when one is overwhelmed with one’s one image?

On intimacy.
Painting is very intimate. Every decision is mine alone on what to put into the painting. Every color is mine to mix, every brush stroke is the coordination between my eyes and the canvas. 

On inspiration.
We hike through much of New Mexico and Colorado. The landscape always reinvigorates. I find film and music always a inspiring.

On the future.
Dreams: To design the set for an opera production. Plans: keep painting!!

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