Faculty portfolios

Jennifer Colten

Senior Lecturer

Phone: 
314-935-8406
Fax: 
314-935-8412

Steinberg 023

Campus Box 1031
Biography 

Jennifer Colten’s work focuses on ambiguous landscapes, social spaces, and cultural geographies exploring sites at the margins of the urban environment, and spaces that reveal a resilience of ecological transformation. Central concerns within her photographic practice reflect questions surrounding the representation of landscape, and examine multiple issues revealing social, cultural, and environmental implications of land use.

Colten has received a number of selective grants to support the development of ongoing projects. The include a Mid-America Arts Alliance grant, the Ferguson Academic Seed Grant, and two Artist Support Grants from the Regional Arts Commission in St Louis.

In addition to private collections, Colten’s photographs have been included in a number of national and international institutions. The Denver Art Museum; Olin Special Collections at Washington University in St. Louis; The Museum Hundertwasser, Vienna; the Museum für Fotografie, Braunschweig, Germany; Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogota; Museo de Antioquia and Bellas Artes Institute, both in Medellín, Colombia; and the Centro Colombo Americano Institutions in Medellín and Periera Colombia, South America.

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Statement 

The land is a repository of collective histories, retaining traces of social engagement, archeology, and anthropological record. Spatial geographies and shifting environmental conditions are a measure of human interaction with the land. What is it about photographing in these spaces that has compelled almost all of my creative work? How can my artistic practice that draws inspiration from issues of land, land use, and the human relationship to the environment, be relevant in this 21st century?

To work with landscape is to embrace and to challenge a long history that has come before. To work specifically with photography is to consciously choose a medium so ubiquitous that its imagery is often and paradoxically either overused or easily dismissed. Building upon the historic landscape photographs of the 19th century Westward Expansion, I make reference to the views that present an open sense of promise. However in contrast, I am interested in portraying a layered depiction—one that plays with perceptions of space and presents a complex relationship with our surroundings.

The act of walking with feet firmly on the ground, is a meditation on and within the landscape. I return to places over and over, as a way to witness the rhythms of change. Moving through this terrain is an immersive experience—one in which simultaneous beauty and damage reside, woven together as a complicated tapestry.