In Jean’s artwork, the function of familiar portable objects like money or dice is altered and rigged to help refocus our use of small, common materials to make big, consequential decisions. Buy that house — flip a coin. Marry that person — throw the dice. Jean often incorporates amulets and gestures that evoke our never-ending hope for fortune, even while we are all cheating, bluffing, or trying to fix the game.
Jean’s most recent work combines vitreous enamel on copper with found textiles, mostly handkerchiefs. Enamel buttons, like dice and money in her earlier work, are a focus: small, humble, essential, easily hidden, personal, easily overlooked, and with historical references to valuables carried by refugees during migration.
Over the past two years of the pandemic, Jean’s studio was full of materials, forms, and juxtapositions that allowed her to ask questions and make art that was responsive to our collective fear and loss. Hankies and buttons are objects with both cultural and aesthetic purpose. The layering of worn-out hankies and newly enameled buttons provide a unique combination of impermanence and permanence in her search for visual metaphors for sorrow.