Born and raised in New York City, JEANNIE MOTHERWELL inherited a love of painting from her father, Robert Motherwell, and stepmother, Helen Frankenthaler, two pillars of mid-century abstraction. She studied painting at Bard College and the Art Students League in New York. Continuing with her art after college, she became active in arts education at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, until relocating to Cambridge, MA, where she worked at Boston University for the graduate program in Arts Administration until 2015. She served on the Cambridge Arts Council Public Art Commission from 2004 – 2007, is currently on the Advisory Board for Joy Street Artists Open Studios in Somerville, MA. and serves on the Board of Directors for Provincetown Arts Magazine. Her work has been featured in public and private collections throughout the US and abroad.
Having vacationed on Cape Cod Bay since childhood, my work is influenced by the constantly changing landscape that surrounds me, and — when not within hearing distance of the waves lapping or crashing onshore — by the images of celestial phenomena as seen from the Hubble telescope in outer space. I am amazed by the images and mysteries of the oceans and skies in changing weather, Hubble-type images of the universe, and my own physicality during the painting process. It has inspired my paintings, which have an intimacy to the space in them but also an immensity.
The pouring process I use and the mere physicality of it helps me explore spatial complexities that yield marvelous surprises, taking me in directions I cannot anticipate. There are things that happen in my paintings that I cannot explain as I contemplate layer upon layer with intermittent editing and erasing. I may try to control the paintings while working, but I am really searching for answers to make the unexpected work for me. It is about exploring the unknown and then refining it to reflect a visceral memory or experience. I like to think of my paintings as ‘events’ or ‘occurrences’ — that is, actions that emerge in the here and now.