By Kenny Jensen
What is a Cosmos Collector?
“Cosmos Collector” is one of the names or descriptions I came up with years ago to help me better understand – for myself and to be able to better communicate with others – who I am and what I am trying to do in and through my art.
I realize the term may come across as bit distant, overreaching, egoic – or even perhaps like a silly supervillain – but language itself is only a limited container or proxy to point at the real stuff and layered events that make up our experience of the universe.
I hope to be able to embody the term as something close, relatable and natural – to evoke and inspire, curiosity, presence, stillness, action and maybe even catharsis. A growing component of my “collecting” is becoming aware of, pointing at, and attempting to integrate the multi-faceted lenses with which these many worlds and realities are seen – or in many cases continue to be tragically unseen.
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I am a multidisciplinary artist living with my wife Maggie and young son Cedar in St. Petersburg and at our family land “The Floating Woods” in rural Gulf Hammock, FL. I’ve been involved in the Tampa Bay area art community as a professional artist, preparator/art handler, curator and grassroots organizer for the past 20 years.
My diverse creative background includes painting, sculpture, photography, site specific installation, video, graphic design, musical composition and performance art.
As a Florida native who spent much of my childhood outdoors, I maintain a deep connection to and a growing concern for our state’s unique natural environment. To create my artwork I actively seek, collect and re-contextualize overlooked organic phenomena and discarded man-made artifacts – which in turn serve as inspiration or raw materials for a wide range of creative explorations.
This cross-discipline practice is dually driven by the curiosity of a naturalist and the earnest concern of a prophet/poet – revealing what is being lost, while reveling in the infinite wonder and mystery of what remains.
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Many of my source materials are gathered from extensive stalking in and around “The Floating Woods.” Others are found locally amid the process of daily life.
Paralleling this curiosity with the nature world, I also engage in a rhizome-like consumption of culture including art, music, literature, philosophy, physics, biology, history, religion, etc. My studio practice flows out the integration of these compulsions. The varied creations emerge through linking these wanderings/dwellings in the field with an intuitive approach to making that guides the direction and shapes the layered meanings of the artworks.
Through these creative strategies, the complex microcosm I encounter in the forest and swamp has become a lens with which I view the cosmos as I seek to understand my place in it.
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Over the past few years, especially since the birth of my 4-year-old son, this process has been expanding from deconstruction towards the pursuit of reconstruction and integration. With my most recent works I am both contemplating and attempting to create space for dialogue around current pressing social and environmental issues that act to separate us from ourselves, each other and nature – like fundamentalism, tribalism and climate collapse apathy/denial.
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In addition to my vocation as a professional artist, I have been working for nearly two decades in the local art community as a Curator, Exhibition Designer and Preparator/Art Handler towards the growth and flourishing of local artists, arts institutions and many grassroots initiatives. I have worked with The Morean Arts Center, The Studio@620, Creative Pinellas and as a member of St. Cate Fine Arts Team, The James Museum, The Imagine Museum, The Dalí Museum, Florida CraftArt and Tampa Museum of Art. I was employed by the Museum of Fine Arts as a Preparator throughout 2020, where I played an important role in the comprehensive renovations to the permanent collection galleries while the museum was closed due to Covid 19. I am currently the Lead Preparator for the Scarfone-Hartley Gallery at The University of Tampa and the Nelson Poynter Memorial Gallery at USFSP.
You can explore the work of Kenny Jensen here
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Kenny Jensen’s work is part of the
Arts Annual Exhibition
at the Gallery at Creative Pinellas
on display November 11 through December 19 –
along with the visual artwork of Elizabeth Barenis, Daniel “R5” Barojas, Nathan Beard, Christina Bertsos, Saumitra Chandratreya, Michael Conway, Linda Costa, Neverne Covington, Creative Clay, Patricia Kluwe Derderian, Javier T. Dones, Lynn Foskett, Donald Gialanella, Jim Gigurtsis, Kevin Grass, Jason Hackenwerth, Steph Hargrove, Kenny Jensen, Victoria Jorgensen, D YaeL Kelley, Akiko Kotani, Cora Marshall, Cynthia Mason, Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse, Mark Mitchell, Zoe Papas, Gianna Pergamo, Rose Marie Prins, Gabriel Ramos, Babs Reingold, George Retkes, Ari Robinson, Ric Savid, Xina Scuderi, Laura Spencer, Jonathan Talit, Kodi Thompson, Judy Vienneau, Angela Warren and Joseph Weinzettle.
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The Gallery at Creative Pinellas is open
Wednesdays through Sundays, noon to 5 pm with free admission