New Work: Column

Jennifer Akkermans_Column_1

Column (2014). MDF, paint, apoxie sculpt, silk fibres. 13” x 5 ½” x 5 ½”.

This work is part of Melancholia, the new series I am working on.  Column expresses the futility of feeling trapped (when really, all you probably need is someone’s help).  This work was really hard to photograph, especially down inside the column, so I’ve included a photo with the figure outside of it, just for documentation’s sake.

Jennifer Akkermans_Column_2


Jennifer Akkermans_Column_detail

New Work: Inner Theatre

Inner Theatre

Inner Theatre (2014). MDF, polymer clay, plexiglass, paint, music box and custom electronics.  17” x 13” x 7”.  

This work is part of Melancholia, the new series I am working on.  Inner Theatre uses a music box and custom electronics to recreate a feeling which I associate with my experience with depression.  The hand with spiral motif symbolizes a personal journey.

Jennifer Akkermans_Inner Theatre_2

Inner Theatre


Inner Theatre, A mechanical sculpture by Jennifer Akkermans. from Jennifer Akkermans on Vimeo.

New Work: Journal Panels

Journal Panels

I’ve finally gotten around to editing some of the documentation images of work I made and documented during my time at the Gushul last month.  Here are some images of some of the journal panels I did.  More images in my portfolio.

Listen to Your Soul for Direction

History of the Troubled Mind

Use the Good Dishes

Stand Out

I have more work that I finished at the Gushul, more photos to come.

Journal Panels Statement 

I’ve been keeping written and visual journals since Mrs. Henley set us the assignment in her grade two class in 1992.  I don’t know if she realized the impact this would have on my life.  I was eight.

My journals have been my constant companion in my life, confidant through it all.  I could chart out my life by them, an archive of my triumphs, hopes and dreams, and lessons learned.

My journal process involves a lot of collage, collecting of images, text, random bits, song lyrics, and personal memories.  I don’t plan the images out before they happen.  Working on multiple panels or pages at a time, I choose things impulsively, instinctively, without thinking too much about it.  I choose whatever resonates with me at the time for whatever reason, sometimes coordinating by color or theme. Often things that seem completely random gather themselves together to form a color scheme or theme that I might not have come up with on my own.  I paint, collage, stamp with my hand carved linoleum stamps, write and doodle all over them, suspending conscious thought, in an attempt to allow something of my subconscious to shine through.  In a sense, this is my own personal kind of meditation, a compulsion that allows me to relax and process things in my own way.

The work in this series is an attempt to share my journals and the process with a wider audience.  They are at once public and personal, although hopefully not too cryptic.  This particular set acts as a series of pep talks to myself, things I’d like to remember to do, to live my life to the fullest and not worry too much.  I hope that others might find something useful in them as well.

See more here.

Daily Overhead Shots from the Gushul

Every day I was there, I took a photo of the studio from the little window in the extra bedroom at the Gushul Studio.  It functions as an interesting diary of my time there.  I did miss a few days at the beginning, and a couple days when I wasn’t there.



























New Work In Progress

Inner Theatre_in progress

I’ve been working on some other things in the last few days, sculpture with some electronics. Part of my plan for this residency is to finish up some work I’d just started, and to make more. I’ve finished up a couple of things, and hope to get the documentation photos I took today edited and up soon. This is a work in progress shot, although the work depicted is finished now, and working as it should be! I feel like I accomplished something tangible today! 🙂

(Did I mention the light in here is amazing? I wish I could always use this space for documentation.)

Documenting / Morning Photographs

Jennifer Akkermans_Personal Journey_2014_web

I’ve been working on a few things, such as making these journal “paintings,” all of which are in varying stages of completion. I have realized that I am a documenter by nature, always keeping journals, photographing things, describing processes.  This residency is no different.  Every morning, when I get up, I grab the camera off of the dresser in the other bedroom, and take a photo of the studio down through the window.  Maybe when I’m finished, I will make a little gif movie.  I did miss a few days in the beginning, before the project occurred to me.









You may notice that the March 7th and March 8th photos are really similar – I went to Red Deer on the 7th for my opening, and then returned on the 8th (and photographed when I returned), so there was not much work happening in between.

Now, back to work.

Gushul 2.0 – Back in the Pass!


So I’m here!  Have been for a few days now, actually.  It’s pretty great.  Nice and quiet, I’ve just been doing my thing.  Such a contrast from Puppet Camp, the polar opposite, actually, but really lovely in another way.  I’m also surprised how much different this is than when I was here with Latifa– it’s a calm energy, as opposed to a slightly nervous dealing-with-another-(lovely)-person-I-just-met vibe.  The fact that it’s winter probably affects that too- so far, it’s been really cold, really snowy, really melty (as in, mini avalanches scaring the crap out of me as they slide off the roof/window), and really nice for about ten minutes.

After calling AMA to get my car started because of the cold on Saturday (what would I do without them?), I drove out to the Pass, unpacked most of the car, and got set up in the studio.  Since then, I’ve just been doing my thing, listening to music and making things.  The only time I’ve really left the studio was to get some basic groceries.  There are lots of things to do here (especially in the summer), and I really love the area, but it’s been cold, and since I’ve been here many times before, I don’t feel compelled to go exploring.  I’m happy just to get to work.

I’ve been getting up quite early – 7:30ish – to work, as I discovered on day one that the light is much different in March than it is in September, when I was here last.  During the day, the studio is absolutely wonderful with all the natural light.  When the sun goes down, however, it seems all the light from other sources gets sucked right out that giant window into the night.  You can probably see the studio from space, but I can’t choose colours after 7:00.

It is, however, setting me on a decent working schedule.  I’m feeling productive.

Gushul Residency 2.0

Anyway.  I am quite enjoying being by myself here, just doing my thing.  I have always been more than comfortable being on my own, and as long as I don’t see any signs of depression showing up (which I doubt I will), all is good.  I do have a couple of trips home planned – well, to Red Deer for commitments to my show at the Harris-Warke Gallery, but as Calgary is on the way, I will stop in to sleep – but I am more than happy to just hang out here.  A good friend of mine is coming to visit for the last weekend of the month, and while I am really looking forward to that, her arrival will mean my time here is coming to a close.  I am open to other visitors – should you happen to be in the area, just knock!

Also, if anyone is interested, my opening at Harris-Warke is this Friday, 6-8 PM.  Address is 4924 Ross Street, Red Deer, and the gallery is on the top floor of the Sunworks store.



– Photo of the Raven Girls’ “Epilogue” – Photo by Meghan Krauss. –

So I’ve been home a few days now, coming down from one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  There’s only been a handful of times in my life I’ve felt like that – I felt like I did graduating from ACAD. Or at my opening at the AGC.  Exhilarated, but then, the come-down.  It felt like we’d been together for so much longer than two weeks, getting to know each other, working together, having a hell of an adventure, hitting the wall and climbing over, and now, I feel a little lonely, missing all my new friends.

I don’t have a new placement at work yet, but it’s just as well- my achilles heel is acting up again.  I’ve been trying to take it easy and let it rest, but I feel like I’ve got a lot of work to do in the studio yet too. Instead of hobbling around too much, I’ve been tying up loose ends for projects ending and coming up, and working on some details of things, but I’ve got some ideas and really want to jump into making some more complicated things. I do need to take it easy, though, and be as ready as I can for when I’m needed back.

Not only did I learn a lot about the collaborative process, but I’ve learned a lot in the last few weeks about individual creative processes, by talking to people and by watching people work.  Sara Tilley has a particularly interesting writing process, at least for the book she is currently working on.  She uses masks to channel the essence of her characters, to catch their personalities and writing styles.  (See the Calgary Herald article about it.)  I went to her artist talk the other night, and it was mesmerizing.  Another artist’s intense concentration, dedication and sense of play astounded me.  I remember an interesting conversation about the definitions of “work” and “play” and how they can overlap, even in the same project.  There were a few artists who have been doing these things professionally for some time, and a few pretty new at it.  I was continually astonished by all the talent around me, and while it did make me doubt myself for a few minutes, I remembered that what I do is interesting and is valuable, and is different, and that we all feel that way sometimes. I decided that instead of feeling even the slightest bit intimidated, I would jump right in and learn as much as I could, anywhere I could.

The other particularly valuable thing for me is the start I made on getting my brain to be quiet.  Normally, my brain is constantly nattering away, talking, talking, talking.  It’s probably 90% of the reason I have troubles sleeping, because my brain just won’t shut up.  Slowly, through the morning yoga/warm up and Suzuki exercises, I was able to get my brain to be quieter, focusing on letting my body think/exist on it’s own.  I had varying degrees of success at this, of course, but I see some incredible value in it, and want to continue to work on this, as it is so powerful.  I think this was also why Suzuki was also my favourite part of the day (which is funny, I would have thought it would be Open Studio)- I was open to trying something completely new, which I had very little exposure to, and it really allowed me to connect to both myself and my group members through our bodies and chi energy.  That work (and all the singing) might also explain why we all felt so close by the end of the program.

I’m having a bit of a tough time letting this wonderful experience go, but it’s really time to take what I can from it and move forward.  Time to get back to work, remember the highlights, let go and move forward.  Easier said than done.

Visual Arts Alberta Exhibition

Jennifer Akkermans at VAAA 1

Last Thursday was the opening for Institute of Morphoid Research at Visual Arts Alberta.  Here are some photos.

Jennifer Akkermans at VAAA 2

Jennifer Akkermans at VAAA 3

Jennifer Akkermans at VAAA 4

Jennifer Akkermans at VAAA 5

Jennifer Akkermans at VAAA 6


Jennifer Akkermans at VAAA 8

The exhibition runs December 5th. 2013 to January 25th, 2014.

Gallery Hours:
Wed – Fri 10am – 4pm & Sat noon – 4pm. 
Closed between December 21 – January 7th.

Mystery Art Date


Last week, my good friend, Beth Cartwright, took me out on a mystery art date.  We went out to Bragg Creek, a place neither of us had been since before the Flood.



Bragg Creek was really different since the flood, the whole course of the river had changed, and the picnic area was completely washed away.  This is a picnic table, uprooted from it’s original place.  There were only a couple around.


Some people looking at the table.


Someone else’s art.


Stacking rocks.


We found a rock we could draw on other rocks with.



Found textures.


I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve really been spinning my wheels lately.  A good friend of mine, Lindsay Joy, has been giving me some encouragement to try to jumpstart me out of the slump.  Her latest attempt is to give me some homework, an assignment: AS SUBTLE AS POSSIBLE. 

Now, if you know me and my work at all, I really don’t do subtle.  I do crazy, cheeky, colorful things, that can’t seem to help but have an element of humour to them.  So my challenge, AS SUBTLE AS POSSIBLE, really is a challenge to get me out of my normal ways of thinking. And yes, the theme really is capitalized.

So, what does the theme mean?  How will I interpret that?  First of all, what is “subtle”?  A google search gives me a starting point:


Complex, understated, delicate… so, I started to play with my camera.  What fits these words?

Doily and yarn

Doily.  Delicate, intricate, yet unobtrusive. Ok, boring.  What else?

Coffee Stain

Doily, with embroidered coffee stain.  Embroidery is the same colour, and directly over the stain.  Subtle.  Seen it before. Hmm.   (Gotta start somewhere…)

Tears detail

Embroidering symbolic tears.  Ie, blood, sweat and tears. Thinking about the time and skill that goes into these “useless” things, that are incredibly abundant in certain houses.  They’ve also got a certain attitude connected with themselves, cleanness, a little bit of fussy-ness, and “properness.”  They give the impression that the house they inhabit is “as it should be,” by society’s standards.  Anyway.  Still boring.

How can I manipulate these ideas into something else?  I tried altering the structure of a doily, pulling and tying a section.


It’s perhaps more interesting staged, than documented.  I like the textures here.  What else can I do with texture?

Tension and text

Here’s some layering.  Pretty, but has no depth.


What about combining some objects, a still life, so to speak?  The textures here are subtle, yet compelling.

Texture 1

Texture 2

Now, the beginnings of depth, a sense of narrative, or memory, maybe?  And the fortune, a tongue in cheek reference to subtleness?

Keeping Secrets

Then I started looking around to see what else might possibly fit well with these textures, and the white colors…. and found these little heads I’d been making for something else, something much less subtle and much more creepy- dead fairy in a jar, anyone?  😛  (I know, crude. But amusing.)

Feathered faces

Feathered faces 2

Feathered Faces 3


These last three images are much more true to my sensibilities than the earlier images, although I’m not so sure that they’re the best interpretation of the theme: subtle.  But I don’t really think that was the point- the point was to kick start my brain into making something different, which this has accomplished.  However, as the theme is AS SUBTLE AS POSSIBLE, I think I’ve nailed it with these last few images.  What do you think?


I found quite interesting the progression of exploring the theme.  I would have never made the last few images if I had stopped after the first couple.  This is how interesting art practices develop, except on a much smaller scale.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so worried about life after the IMR, but just make stuff and see what happens.

At this point, I’ve got lots of ideas on the go, some completely outside of my current capabilities and skill sets.  While I think they’re interesting, there isn’t much continuity between one and the next, and not a lot of depth right now.  This has been a reminder that that just needs my time and focus to develop.  I’ve gotta let go of this self-imposed pressure to dive into another fully developed, mature body of work, and just let it develop on it’s own.  Part of the cycle, I guess.

Gotta do some more playing.

Lindsay, set me some more assignments.  And what’s my grade for this one?