We recently connected with local artist, Geneviève Medow Jenkins to learn more about her creative vision and influences. Her recent series, Soft Dreamscapes is a collaboration between her and friends Elena Stonaker (Artist), Anna Lands (Stylist), Anna Schilling (Stylist and Makeup Artist) and Sara Cath (Model, M Model Management). After seeing it we knew we needed to learn more about this ethereal and talented artist who equates her soul to a “baby grandma with a deep voice.” Read on to get to know the fascinating Geneviève:
Where does your creativity come from?
That’s an interesting question, because I used to think ‘creativity’ was a bad word. As a kid, adults would often call me “creative” almost in lieu of “correct” or “that’s right!” I think my creativity is as deep and old as I am. It’s ancient. I was born in a place with no television, on the mountains by the sea, so most of who I am is a reflection of my upbringing in Big Sur. My mom likes to tell this story of how she went running early one morning and when she approached our dirt road, to her horror, she saw me standing at the top, completely naked having painted my whole body in color in her absence. She was concerned that the paint was toxic, but otherwise, she was entertained. It wasn’t much different from the workshops she taught at Esalen Institute, in which she would convince 30 people to cover their naked bodies in mud and run across the property of the Institute. So a lot of my creativity stems from that as well, from growing up at Esalen.
What are your thoughts on being an artist in today’s world?
‘Artist’ is such a vague concept. Everything can be an art. Dentistry is an art– the sculpture and maintenance of a piece of work: teeth. Cooking is an art, and plating it is another. Doing massage and bodywork is an art. I think that being an ‘artist’ is something that is inherent to living well; it’s the application of your personal self into your craft. I think if everyone was willing to weave their emotional and personal world into their work, people would find more passion and purpose in what they do. ‘Artists’ are the people who do that.
What art movements or artists would you say influence your work most?
I got my degree in Linguistics, so I ended up studying a lot of cultures and living in a few countries. When I lived in Barcelona, I fell in love with the surrealists like Luis Buñuel, Federico García Lorca, René Magritte, Dalí and Pedro Almodóvar. When I lived in Berlin, it was Bauhaus. Gertrud Arndt and her husband Arnold made me believe that love and art could cohabitate. I saw this exhibit that displayed their wedding vows: wine-stained and water-run ink that I imagined fell from tears of laughter– making promises to each other about art and love that felt so inherent to what I yearned for. She also did photography, often of women and friends. My photography, film and curation always interweaves friendship, mostly female friendship, and feelings. Gertrude Stein and her salons inspired me to start my book club. My boyfriend makes music and he is working on some classical projects that influence my work. The songs he’s writing make me want to create pieces and environments for them to inhabit, like this fashion film we are working on together.
How did you feel when you created Soft Dreamscapes?
Blessed to be with other creatures who understand the difficulties in traversing multiple worlds at the same time, and reverence for my co-creators. I love to witness the way Elena Stonaker turns her inner world inside out in her soft sculptures. My stylist, Anna Schilling, is such a secret alien, and they collaborated in altering one of the looks that fit this incarnation of our model, Sara. We wanted to recreate the teenage self experiencing that magical time when a part of you is dying and being born at the same time, while still holding on to childhood. Something I see in all of us is that we maintain our inner child. I love bringing people together who really see authentic glimmers of each other in themselves and, whatever that authenticity is, shines through in the work. I think we achieved it.
How do you personally relate to and connect with the series?
I played with my Barbies a lot longer than other girls my age. I remember in the 3rd grade, it was my secret. I think that’s how I relate to Elena’s art, and what I wanted to capture. I still sleep with a giant fish pillow at night, and I think there’s something sweet about that– the comfort of a pleasure so innocent, and otherworldly. We each create worlds in our mind– other worlds, private worlds– and there is this apathy towards the ‘reality’ that I wanted to capture in contrast. It’s in the way she looks at the camera.
What other forms of self expression and creativity do you gravitate towards?
Outside of photography, I am interested in filmmaking, curating live experiences and writing prose or poetry. I like to make collages and felt hamburgers too. Sometimes my boyfriend and I write fake songs together. I love to dance to Caribbean music, curate good dinner parties and get stuck in accents and characters. There are so many forms of expression… even down to the way I dress.