Artist and writer Jen Bervin embraces subjects as wide-ranging as the Mississippi River, Emily Dickinson’s poetry, and the history of silk, weaving, and nanotechnology. On February 21, 2018 the artist, Jeanne Dunning, Art Theory & Practice professor, and Susy Bielak, Susan and Stephen Wilson Associate Director of Engagement/Curator of Public Practice, sat down for a conversation about Bervin’s work. In winter 2018, Jen Bervin was the Kaplan Artist-in-Residence hosted by the Block Museum of Art.
“It is a function of poetry to locate those zones inside us that would be free, and declare them so.” – C.D. Wright
Excerpt from Opening Remarks by Susy Bielak
It is Silk Poems that first brought Jen Bervin to Northwestern. The vision, complexity, ambition, elegance, and feeling of this work rings throughout Jen’s practice. There is time given for process. There is meticulous care and sensitivity to voice and material. There is a density of beauty and depth. They all are deeply human.
Last year, the Block Museum and the McCormick School of Engineering embarked on an exploratory series of intensive artist visits to help us imagine ways we might embed artists within a school of engineering, across campus, Evanston and Chicago; in our landscapes and with our braintrust. Jen Bervin was one of the first artists we invited. Just over a year ago, the two of us went on a whirlwind tour of meetings with students, faculty and staff from Art History, Art Theory & Practice, the Center for the Writing Arts, Material Science, Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern Libraries, Physics, Neuroscience and Robotics, Poetry & Poetics, and the Segal Design Institute. The intensity of such a visit is not for the faint of heart, or mind. Jen brought remarkable insight and perspective to each of these conversations. That immersive visit led to Jen’s current residency.