Jen McCleary attended Tyler School of Art (BFA Painting and Printmaking), University of the Arts (Continuing Education in Print Design), and University of Pennsylvania (MLA). She works both digitally and in traditional mixed-media collage and views the two seemingly different media as complimentary and rooted in the same process of collecting and arranging images. In 2019 she began to learn the craft of wheel-thrown ceramics, which she alters through decoupage and the traditional Japanese art of kintsugi (repairing broken items with gold and lacquer). This process of creation and destruction considers the inevitabilities of damage and healing as part of the beauty of an object. She also works as a freelance graphic designer specializing in book cover and layout design.
The roots of my art lie in the process of collecting images, ephemera, and found objects, which I layer, alter, or arrange to create something complex and symbolic. I work both digitally (photo-collage and graphic design) and in more traditional forms (mixed-media collage/painting and jewelry made from found and vintage objects). No matter the medium, I prefer to work intuitively, letting each piece evolve over time and in unexpected directions. My work is more a form of meditation or playful exploration than a deliberate attempt at communicating a concept, although I do believe that images and objects can act as carriers of meaning and emotional resonance. My work is inspired by science, wonder, and dualities including manmade/natural worlds, light/dark (metaphorically and literally), creation/destruction, and complexity/simplicity. In 2019 I began to learn the craft of wheel-thrown ceramics, which I alter through decoupage and the traditional Japanese art of kintsugi (repairing broken items with gold and lacquer). For me, this process of creation, destruction, and repair mirrors the ups and downs of life and treats the inevitabilities of damage and healing as something beautiful to be celebrated.