I am an anthropologist by profession although I have also pursued a parallel track as an artist working in paper collage, oils, watercolors, silkscreen, and most recently, ceramics. My artwork, like my scholarship, is informed by a “disciplined eclecticism.” I have an insatiable curiosity that extends to all forms of artistic and aesthetic expression, but am especially influenced by contemporary Japanese printmakers and ceramicists.
My relationship with Japan is substantial and integral to my own identity. I was fortunate to have spent childhood and early teenage years in the Tokyo area, where my parents, both artists, raised me and my three siblings for a decade before returning to the United States. Altogether, I have lived in Japan for nearly twenty years and travel there a least once a year.
I majored in the history of art in preparation for a career in Asian art conservation and restoration, but I later decided to pursue an advanced degree in anthropology as my interests had shifted more to the cultural context and social production of art. My academic background and work is accessible at http://sitemaker.umich.edu/jennifer.robertson. Ten years ago, I also began working in and on Israel, where I also spend time each year.
Each medium—watercolor, oil, paper collage, clay—offers me different modes of engagement. My watercolors initially spring from spontaneous, or at least less mediated, emotions and feelings, whereas my paper collages call for more craft-like deliberation. In oils, I most enjoy painting figures and “bodyscapes”; I borrow compositional elements from Japanese prints but aim to develop a painterly technique. Clay, which is the medium newest to me, involves a splendid tactility and a total immersion in three-dimensions at once. I continue to experiment with various shapes and surfaces. In all of my art work, I wish to create interesting forms and compositions that “work” visually and interpretatively on several registers.
I am an Associate Member of the National Watercolor Society and a Member of the Michigan Watercolor Society, and a Member of the Potter's Council.