Jen Wink Hays


Jen Wink Hays Biography

Lately my work has become much looser and more gestural as I've moved from gouache back to oil paint. It has been a revelation for me in terms of process and the experience of art making. I still have a lot of the same themes floating around in my head, but they are brought to life in a more fluid and organic manner.

I continue to use color to convey the interplay between the organic and the synthetic, often blending earthy tones with riotous neons. I like to play with dispersement as if the individual forms in a painting are responding to an unseen force. I respond to the idea of fluctuation and relatedness within a group of distinct individuals and the way that the placement of a unique form in relation to others within a visual field can tell a story. 

I like to close in on detailed under-paintings with lush fields of opaque oil paint. This is subtractive process that partially obscures and redefines earlier layers of color and form - creating a kaleidoscopic story-within-a-story experience. Painting in distinct, incomplete layers allows me to explore the idea of concealing and revealing -- an active process of choosing what to present outwardly and what to keep under wraps. Even though this tends to be an additive, building process, I am actively working with the notion of excavation as well. I imagine that by painting in this way, I am something of an archeologist toiling away to reveal hidden, long-forgotten information.

ABOUT ME: I am originally from a beautiful, small town in coastal Maine where I experienced a salty-air childhood directly from the pages of a Robert McCloskey book. I moved to New York City as a teenager to attend Barnard College and have somehow lived in big cities ever since. Over the years I have worked as a painter, a graphic designer (Village Voice), a small business owner (Utility Design), an off-broadway dramaturg (Blue Man Group), a founder of a school (Blue School) and then... at long last...a painter again (exhale). Today I live and work in the relative calm of Philadelphia with my kids and husband, fellow painter Tyler Hays - where fireflies can be caught (and released) on summer nights in Fitler Square.