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Artist Enjoys Sharing Work with Students, New Haven Community, and People Around the World
Get to know Jacquelyn Gleisner, MFA, practitioner in residence in the University of New Haven’s art and design department, who was recently selected as visiting critic-in-residence for The Chart, an online arts journal dedicated to raising visibility of writing about the arts.
October 11, 2019
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
The lifeblood of the University of New Haven are the faculty and staff members who dedicate their lives to helping our students reach their goals. Periodically, we’ll introduce you to a member of the faculty so you can learn more about his or her important work.
Next up is Jacquelyn Gleisner, a practitioner in residence in the University’s art and design department.
Renee Chmiel: What did it mean to you to be chosen as The Chart’s 2019 Visiting Critic-in-Residence? Jacquelyn Gleisner: I was honored to have been selected as The Chart’s 2019 Visiting Critic-in-Residence. This August, I spent a week in Maine, where I met with many talented artists and held a public workshop on writing for visual artists. It was very meaningful for me to witness how an art publication can serve the greater community by providing a space to examine the ways artists are addressing societal concerns.
Last October, I founded Connecticut Art Review, a writing platform for the visual arts across this state. Spending time with Jenna Crowder, who runs The Chart, renewed my aspirations for my blog, as well as my hopes for the future of art writing in general.
RC: Where has your work been exhibited? JG: I have shown my work across this country, especially around New England, and internationally. A solo exhibition at the Pegasus Gallery at Middlesex Community College is currently on view through mid-October. I have a painting in the faculty show at the Seton Gallery here on campus, too.
RC: What projects are you most proud of? JG: During the first half of this year, I was a co-Creative in Residence at the New Haven Free Public Library with my husband, Ryan Paxton. We offered weekly programming that aimed to educate patrons on how to use the library’s maker space, which includes a laser cutter, 3D printers, a vinyl cutter, a CNC Carvey machine, and much more.
What made this experience special to me was the opportunity to work with the public alongside my partner and the compassionate staff at the NHFPL. I love that the library is a space that is open to anyone. Also, the resources that are available across our New Haven libraries are among the best in the country. Our residency culminated in an installation of lamps made using the laser cutter. They are still on display inside a vacant storefront window at 900 Chapel Street.
RC: What do you like best about teaching at the University of New Haven? JG: The students! Earlier this summer I taught at the University of New Haven Tuscany Campus, and the excitement of my students as they wandered around the Venice Biennale was truly contagious. I am thankful for my colleagues, too. The passion they bring to their work outside of the classroom is invaluable for our students to see.
"The excitement of my students as they wandered around the Venice Biennale was truly contagious."Jacquelyn Gleisner
RC: Where do you find inspiration? Who or what influences your work? JG: Much of my work is influenced by the Pattern and Decoration movement. This group of artists was active during the 1970s, and collectively, they advocated for representation and exposure for underappreciated peoples and artworks.
Since 2014, I have been working on a series of large-scale paintings on paper that stem from the central ideas of this art movement. The works—sometimes as long as thirty feet—embrace vibrant colors and bold patterns inspired by craft traditions such as quiltmaking and macrame. I often document these paintings outside where the scrolls become a type of disruption inside the environment in which they have been temporarily placed.
RC: You have visited Finland and Botswana to study and to participate in an artist’s exchange, respectively. What did you learn from these experiences? JG:While I was living in Finland on a Fulbright grant, I learned how to write. I was offered a position as a blogger for Art21, a subsidiary of PBS that focuses on the role of the visual arts in the twenty-first century. This position granted me access to the Finnish art scene, and I spent several months interviewing some of the country’s influential contemporary artists.
Five years later, I was invited to travel to Botswana after the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Botswana, Earl R. Miller, selected my work to be curated into a three-year exhibition through the Art in Embassies Program. Over ten days, I gave workshops on painting as well as professional practices for artists in Gaborone, Molepolole, and Maun.
The generosity of the people I met in Botswana has stayed with me, and I still feel so incredibly lucky to have been offered this incredible opportunity. Despite significant cultural differences, it was easy to find connections between myself and Batswana artists.
Both experiences have underscored how the arts promote cross-cultural understanding and compassion. My time in Finland and Botswana influenced my belief that the arts are a strong force of cultural diplomacy, with more relevance now than ever.
"I’m very passionate about highlighting the ways that artists enrich their communities."Jacquelyn Gleisner
RC: What community outreach initiatives you are involved with? Why are these endeavors so important? JG: This summer I have been working on a writing series for Artspace, New Haven called "The Million-Petaled Flower of Being Here," which includes ten profiles of local artists. Together, these stories illustrate how artists overcome hardships such as moving to another country or dealing with the sudden loss of a family member. The oldest artist in the group, Ann P. Lehman, is 91 years old, and it was fascinating to listen to her describe her enduring commitment to her practice as a sculptor. She’s still welding and teaching one course a week on metal fabrication at the Creative Arts Workshop. These profiles will be published this October inside the City-Wide Open Studios guide as well as on my blog, Connecticut Art Review. The arts are such a vital part of our global culture, and as a writer, I’m very passionate about highlighting the ways that artists enrich their communities.