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Malia Jensen: Eremocene

August 6, 2020 - September 26, 2020

A still image of a four-channel video. Each frame shows a block of salt in the shape of a human foot, with the sole of the foot facing the camera and a pedeastle of salt below it, placed on a tree stump in a forest. In three of the four frames, cinnamon colored deer licking the salt foot are caught on a motion-activated camera.

Elizabeth Leach Gallery is pleased to present Eremocene, recent works by Malia Jensen including kiln cast glass sculpture, video installation and digital photographs. Join us online for a preview and artist talk with Daniel Peabody and Malia Jensen at 6pm on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 via Facebook Live.

Malia Jensen’s multimedia art practice focuses on natural cycles, the human form and connections with nature. Her works are often visual metaphors that encourage multiple readings from the viewer. The title Eremocene references philosopher and biologist E.O. Wilson’s theory about humankind’s impending “Age of Loneliness” after the rapid decline of the planet’s biodiversity, and Jensen’s related themes of erasure and transformation in this body of work.

This exhibition is the culmination of Jensen’s Nearer Nature: Worth Your Salt project 2019-2020, in which carved salt-lick sculptures representing parts of the human form, were situated next to motion-activated cameras throughout Oregon’s wilderness. Video footage captured elk, bobcat, fox, birds, coyotes, mice and raccoons engaging with the salt forms or being in their proximity. Jensen created a video artwork from thousands of sequential 30-second clips of animal activity and the surrounding landscape. The six-hour video of continually rotating surveillance footage highlights mesmerizing sequences of wildlife interactions and encourages us to consider our place in the natural world.

The “artifacts” of Jensen’s project include the salt lick remnants she retrieved from the locations that were later kiln cast in glass. The resulting sculptures of worn away, weathered and texturized salt transmit an oddly seductive tactility, imbued with the contact of dozens of animals. Each one acts as a kind of sculptural elegy to the human form, dissolved by the actions of the environment and the many unwitting animal collaborators, subsequently preserved through human intervention.

Also on view are Jensen’s color photographs titled Insex, a series of voyeuristic and playful insect portraits caught mid-mating ritual. These images, by contrast to the sculptures and video, are situated in the domesticated spaces of yards and patios, witnessed through quiet observation of the wildlife near at hand. Photographed over many years, Jensen considers these images a testament to the persistence of nature and an ode to our own animal instincts.

The Nearer Nature: Worth Your Salt project began in spring 2019 after Malia Jensen was awarded a Creative Heights Initiative from The Oregon Community Foundation. Special thanks to Michael Endo and the Yucca Valley Material Lab where Jensen produced the glass sculptures in January 2020.

Malia Jensen lives and works in Portland, OR. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues and institutions including the Melbourne International Arts Festival (Melbourne, Australia), Schneider Museum of Art (Ashland, OR), Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, WA), Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (Milwaukee, WI), Holter Museum of Art (Helena, MT), Portland Art Museum (Portland, OR), Mesa Arts Center (Mesa, AZ), Marian Goodman Gallery (London, England), Richard Gray Gallery (Chicago, IL) and Cristin Tierney Gallery (New York, NY). She has been an Artist in Residence at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (Captiva, FL), Ucross Foundation (Clearmont, WY), Headlands Center for the Arts (Sausalito, CA) and the Portland Garment Factory (Portland, OR); and a visiting artist and speaker at Whitman College (Walla Walla, WA), Southern Oregon University (Ashland, OR), Pacific Northwest College of Art (Portland, OR) and Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Boston, MA). She has completed numerous public commissions in the Northwestern United States, and her work is held in many public and private collections. Jensen has been represented by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery since 2006.


August 6, 2020
September 26, 2020
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Wheelchair accessible
Women-owned, Women curated, Women artist(s)
Event Type
Gallery, Visual Art, Film & Video
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Elizabeth Leach Gallery
417 NW 9th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209 United States
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