Refreshing Jenay Grice returns to form

Painting student Jenay Grice might say that a rose, by any other name, still looks like a rose. Grice loves the classics. In art-speak, that means a return to form. A painting student at the Ashland Academy of Art, Grice has adopted the somewhat rarefied philosophy of valuing authenticity and technique in the classic frames of artistic expression and recapturing the essences of nature.

Tall, lithe, contemplative with big, expressive eyes, Grice is like the Disney persona of the modern young academic artist. It's easy to imagine her in a Parisian hamlet a few centuries ago, hunched over a canvas catching the last rays of light. Bohemian fashion and weighty thoughts abound as Grice explains that in the 1900s, there was a huge switch from academic art to modern art. Prior, there were a number of state funded art academies designed to foster talent.

"People grew sick of the dry routine of art. It had grown cold and calculated. But the modern art movement also grew out of control. I've been interested in art since I was a child but often feel alienated by 'modern' art."

Grice is the product of nomadic parents who moved, with her in tow, from California to Washington, Alaska and Florida. While in the East Coast and weighing her options, Grice discovered the Ashland Academy of Art. Excited, she packed her bags for Oregon.

"I was so excited to find a school where I can hone real skills, such as symmetry, color theories, etc. Basically, my goal is to be as truthful to what I feel and see as possible," said Grice. "A lot of people use art as therapy or as some outlet for inner struggle and that's fine, but it's not really what I'm interested in."

Grice is enthralled by the Renaissance. She is fascinated by scale and form and using them to interpret the literal and the manifested. She spends hours on staring at hands and seeing the universe.

"I'm absolutely loving it here. I'm glad that I moved around a lot. I think that it helps in making one social, and learning to relate to people more quickly," said Grice.

True to form, her one complaint about Southern Oregon?

"... the Lithia Park Lincoln head. Why? Why is it so big? It looks like a Blow Pop, or a Pez dispenser or something."

So, in a growing age of fragmented ideologies pooling themselves into discombobulated modern art, why such passion for the classics? One thing Grice finds frustrating is the evolution of the concept of the artist itself.

"I want to create things which people understand as they look at, without having to use over-technical art speak to translate. Over the last hundred years, if one is introduced as an artist, people are taken aback. I feel that can be dishonest," said Grice. "Nature is beautiful and intelligent and I want to be able to relate that in the best possible way."

Grice went to express irritation with the pretension that has seeped into art, originally a means of the exploration of truth.

Grice has dabbled in other means of expression, such as photography, but always returns to painting.

"Photography has its limits. I don't want to just copy nature. I want to put myself into it; my ideals, my ideas. I want to do paintings about morality. Political issues. For me, photography wouldn't be as fulfilling. Plus, it's different to use your hands to create something," said Grice.

Grice has another two years at the Academy to bloom into as she concocts her own little renaissance, then she has her sites set back on traveling.

"I'd like to be able to see the world, paint different landscapes, places. I'd like to go to Florence on a study sabbatical, that sort of thing. Moving is addicting."

For more on Grice, check out her MySpace page.

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