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Meet Jenna Bauer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenna Bauer.

Hi Jenna, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by sharing what inspires your teaching and not-for-profit arts project.
Well, in short: I’m tired of racism and stereotyping. It’s unacceptable that friends and neighbors cannot feel safe walking down the street because our world is packed with fear (when walking down the street is a metaphor for living one’s life.) I’ve always believed the solution is education, specifically reaching the minds of children who are ready to take action in the name of a better world. Introducing new skills, boosting confidence and encouraging socially-minded tactics for children through art is one step towards evolving a diverse world into one with less violence.

As an artist and an educator at my core, I’ve developed a way to use the color wheel to approach difficult conversations that break down “fear of the different” and what leads people to bully and stereotype each other. The color wheel is a metaphor for our similarities and differences as human beings, and through art lessons, these things become easier to talk about. Enter Colorbridge Art…

“Smiling at Diversity” & “Color Wheel Connections” are the signature curricula of Colorbridge Art and have been taught at schools throughout Saint Louis. Colorbridge Art, with the support of excellent teaching artists, also provides potter’s wheels classes, afterschool, private and small group art lessons in drawing, painting, bookmaking, printmaking, and collage. Through art, students develop their fine motor skills and also life skills: patience, confidence, collaboration, grit.

Colorbridge Art is a way for me to offer the personal and social benefits of making art with the community while maintaining a tricky balance with the joy of being a studio artist and musician on my own time. I believe life is a form of art. In other words, everything is art. The way we build our community is an artform. The way we take care of each other is an artform. I consider this “social sculpture.” Through the development of a 501c3 not-for-profit arts organization, my expression of socially-minded arts education may live on similarly to how a painting holds space on a collectors wall for years to come.

It has been my dream for decades to mobilize art education by selling artwork. I am at the very beginning of reaching this goal. I have established an art gallery program that can be found on Instagram: @Macklind_Appliance. Every sale from the gallery benefits the artist who created the work and the programs of Colorbridge Art, @ColorbridgeArt. A win-win-win for the artist, art education, and new collector. I am inspired, and I am most happy when supporting the countless ways art improves the quality of our lives.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My journey has definitely not been smooth or easy. Hopes of relocating my life to upstate New York fell by the wayside after returning to my hometown, twice, to help family members through end-of-life; The second return to the midwest was when my father developed symptoms of ALS and prompted my return immediately after earning my master’s in painting at Hunter College. During these years I found respite in making paintings, singing and charting new plans for start-up not-for-profits.

When I speak about the rhythm of life being a form of art, I truly mean it in this case: uprooting one’s life and caregiving for a loved-one became an artform. It was not easy; however, I learned how to address the responsibilities of being there for my dad, managing his care during a five-year decline, while managing to hang on to (and recognize) my own aspirations.

Navigating this time in my life would have been impossible without close friends coming through for me with support. Deep loving friendships through the years have helped me maintain focus and assure me of the value of my work. Celebrating all of our efforts and accomplishments, big and small, often and freely, is so important. Also, I have grown to notice (and friends remind me!) that a lot of the stressors we have in our lives are self-imposed – based on our own goals and timeframes – and that we can take it easier on ourselves by slowing down.

Another more work-based observation and challenge is that I have always created work for myself through my own not-for-profit activities. I really enjoy creating new programs, but sometimes I envy the type of work that – at the end of the day – I was not responsible for generating. Start-up 501c3 work is always a labor of love.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your art?
I consider myself a painter, teaching-artist, social sculptor and performer of jazz standards. All of these collectively become my art practice. Have a look ~ My visual art is an abstract departure from landscape, with an acute focus on color, gesture and process. I love interacting with the necessary art materials and assuming that I’m in some sort of laboratory when I’m in my studio. When I use the term “process painting” I mean: sometimes the act of painting is enough; Sometimes we manifest visual work as a result of making our “actual” work – and I say: no moment is inconsequential! even the process and everything that happens along the way becomes part of the piece, should hold space and is important.

Art is powerful and I’m hoping, in my modest circles and ways, to merge the function of my visual art and my social practice to sustain community arts programs Colorbridge Art and Macklind Appliance Gallery (@ColorbridgeArt @Macklind_Appliance).

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
Strive to do what you love for work. Do it with abandon. Seek out wise and generous people in your field and meet with them. Share with them your projects and ideas with them. Get feedback. Welcome and be gracious when listening to criticism. Your mentors will be there for you. Don’t be shy to ask for advice. This is very validating for everyone involved – to be heard wanting to learn more – and to be asked for knowledge.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:
Studio photos: Virginia Harold
Potter’s wheel photo: Vanessa Rudloff
Remaining photos: Jenna Bauer

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