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by Todd Camplin

For centuries, oil on canvas was a standard for artists to create paintings. Stretching a canvas
or linen over wood acted as a surface for the colors. Jen Pack, in her recent show at Carneal
Simmons Contemporary Art, has flipped this idea of adding to the surface. Instead, Pack has
selected materials that express shape and form without the aid of paint. Although no paint
is involved, these still read as paintings.
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One could argue that Pack is really creating collages. After all she is taking found materials and
organizing the shapes on a surface. However, Pack uses the language of the minimalist painters.
She uses shaped canvas which Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly would use. The lines and shapes
of Pack’s works remind me of a more colorful Agnes Martin. The materials are stretched over
stretcher bars like a painting. All of which furthers my argument that these are more like paintings.
But if the works on the wall are not collage, could they be consider fiber textile art? Yes and I
think Pack is comfortable with this description as well as painting, because of her two flowing
threads sculpture. These two objects remind you of the materials Pack is interested in exploring.
She is looking at color of thread to create her art.

Think about the work Black Noise. A painting with lines of color coming down and lines of color
going up with a black area that divides the top and bottom. Sparks of garishly bright color lay
alongside more muted colors and with lines of black in between giving the object a vibrating
power similar but not quite the same as an Op piece. This painting/textile has all the hallmarks
of minimalism and Op, but more of a personality of the fun MADI art movement. However, Pack
seems to have refined her work to feel kin to these other art forms while managing to breath
a clear voice of her own.
When I saw her work over the summer in a group show, I was hoping to see a solo show follow
soon. Turns out Carneal Simmons Contemporary Art must have had the same feeling. Jen
Pack’s show titled Resonant Fragments will be on display until November 11th.
Harriet, 2006
Fabric, thread, wood, Variable: approx. 69 x 60 x 69
So what does it matter which tradition art falls under? It matters because we viewers can reach
back into history and think about context of a work made today. How does the work fit in a
greater art history narrative. Painting on canvas has a long history and textiles have an even
longer history. Her work has a dual history to explore and it is clear Pack is pulling on a lot of
threads of visual cultural history.
Bumblebee Song, 2017
Fabric, thread, wood, 62 x 38 x 3  1/2
Black Noise, 2016
Fabric, thread, wood, 29 x 26 x 3
Kaleiding Symmetries (Fire. Fury. Power), 2017
Fabric, thread, wood, 28 x 22 x 3