Jennifer R. A. Campbell (Washington, D.C.), a finalist for the inaugural Bennett Prize®, populates her magical yet carefully ordered landscapes with characters from across the cultural spectrum. Clothing, hair, makeup, and the other external symbols we use to communicate are cues to conformity or defiance of expectations within a host of social circles. If we do not recognize these people from our daily lives, indeed might see ourselves, family members, friends, or neighbors within Campbell’s diverse cast, then we know them through various print and electronic media - the news, entertainment, and the personalities and lifestyles of reality TV. Within her mysterious and sometimes wildly dramatic narratives everyone’s quirks are on display. There is no hierarchy, all manners of dress and action are equal, and so those things viewers sees of themselves is no longer the norm, and the “strange” becomes unremarkable. Campbell’s narratives are an equalizer, reminding us that the human condition is frequently absurd, but often only to the beholder.
This artwork is traveling as part of the "Rising Voices 1: The Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realist Painters" exhibition through July 2021. Contact Art Martin, Senior Curator, Muskegon Museum of Art (the organizing venue) at 231-720-2582 for purchase information.