Backstage at Utah Arts Festival 2014: Dallas artist Jennifer Lashbrook turns paint swatches into unique portraits

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DIY Day Lilies by Jennifer Lashbrook.
DIY Day Lilies by Jennifer Lashbrook.

Many artists at the Utah Arts Festival’s Artists Marketplace are increasingly finding that any material, which might have been discarded previously or considered an afterthought, is worth converting into appealing art forms. Jennifer Lashbrook from Dallas, who won this year’s People’s Choice Award in the Artist Marketplace, creates portraits from paint swatches she gathers from a local hardware store. She then meticulously cuts each piece to create a surface resembling a puzzle. She recently agreed to a Q&A interview with The Utah Review. 

TUR: How have you used art media forms in helping to create an holistic body of artistic work that searches for a more complete expression of your own innermost and most powerful states of emotion, inspiration, contemplation, and self-identity?

JL: I find the collecting and sorting of my medium meditative. There is so much preparation that goes into each piece. My unique medium creates a holistic body of work.

TUR: What is your training as an artist? Who do you consider your most significant influences and inspirations? Do these influences shift as you progress both in your work and life?

JL: I began painting when I was 10 years old. I studied art through out high school and received a BFA from the University of North Texas. I have been working professionally for the last 10 years and full-time for the last year. My mother, a seamstress and fashion designer, is a huge inspiration as well as artists, Close, Dali, Rauchenberg, and Richter. The more variety of artwork I see, the more inspired I become.

TUR: Do you work full-time exclusively as an artist? Or, how do you augment your work as an artist?

JL: Yes I work full-time as an artist. I travel the country doing art festivals.

TUR: Do you find it easy or difficult to start new work? And, typically, how do you prepare yourself to handle both the creative and physical demands of creating your art?

Pale Starlet by Jennifer Lashbrook.
Pale Starlet by Jennifer Lashbrook.

JL: I love starting new pieces, but every time I start I get intimidated. I work non-stop and the physical demands of traveling and setting up festivals is great, especially when doing it by yourself. I absolutely love what I do and am so humbled to be making a living selling my art.

TUR: With regard to participating in the Utah Arts Festival, please share your feelings about being a part of this enterprise? Have you been in other festivals and do you plan to explore other festival venues?

JL: I am very excited to be participating in the Utah Arts Festival. I have heard great things about the show from my art colleagues. I participate in festivals around the country and enjoy traveling and showing my work to new audiences.

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Les Roka
I am a native of Toledo, Ohio, having received my Ph.D. in journalism and mass communication from Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism in 2002. In addition to teaching at Utah State University and the University of Utah, I have worked extensively in public relations for a variety of organizations including a major metropolitan university, college of osteopathic medicine, and community college. When it comes to intellectual curiosity, I venture into as many areas as possible, whether it’s about music criticism, the history of journalism, the practice of public relations in a Web 2.0 world and the soon-to-arrive Web 3.0 landscape, or how public debates are formed about many issues especially in the political arena. As a Salt Lake City resident, I currently write and edit a blog called The Selective Echo that provides an entertaining, informative, and provocative look at Salt Lake City and its cosmopolitan best. I also have been the U.S. editorial advisor for an online publication Art Design Publicity based in The Netherlands. And, I use social media tools such as Twitter for blogging, networking with journalists and experts, and staying current on the latest trends in culture and news. I also have been a regular monthly contributor to a Utah business magazine, and I have recently conducted a variety of editing projects involving authors and researchers throughout the country and the world, including Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Lebanon, Cyprus, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan. I’m also a classically trained musician who spent more than 15 years in a string quartet, being involved in more than 400 performances.

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