"It's a worn and comforting cliche, that when one door in life closes, another window opens. Although they started out promisingly enough, these were incredibly tough years, where many doors were slammed shut in my face. There were other doors where I grabbed the knobs myself and locked them from the inside. It was a time of feeling defeated, depressed, and I will admit, a bit sorry for myself. I think I had outgrown believing in 'happily ever after', but I did imagine that after finally finding my soul-mate and walking down the aisle, after finally moving to the east coast to follow the next stages of my art career, well, I thought I was finally climbing to the next level. My husband had completed the last stages of applying to be a Secret Service agent, and there was talk he would be working at the home of the Vice President. I saw a sunlit stream of days where we were both living up to our full potential. I imagined taking a cup of morning tea into my state-of-the art studio, in a rustic New England house, beginning another day working as a professional artist for east coast venues, only a stone's throw from New York City, the art capital of the world.
But God had different plans in store. We couldn't know at the time that we would be tested, and that the outcome would be a stronger marriage, clearer values, and a radically closer relationship to Him. At the time, it all seemed dark-- black icy roads and snow pelting the windshield on that dismally long trip back to our hometown in 2007. Dave had nearly died of a flesh-eating staph infection, which had ruined his prospects with the Secret Service, and we were returning 'home' with our savings depleted, as well as our dreams.
All of the previous successes and self-confidence regarding what I was doing as an artist suddenly seemed like a vague memory. On top of everything else, I just couldn't get past what I was witnessing in 'the art business', namely that art was solely a commodity to make money and coordinate with living room couches. I wanted to make art that wasn't dependent on whether or not it was saleable. I wanted my art to provoke minds and inspire hearts, and maybe even change perceptions on a mass scale. Rightly or wrongly, my idealism clashed full on with the hard-headed business sense in all the galleries I encountered. It sent me spiralling into a major depression, where I was functioning reasonably well on the outside, but drained and empty inside. My basic web skills, coupled with a strong desire to keep learning, got me an entry level job working with the webmaster of our regional newspaper. Diving into the world of pixels and code and graphic design, learning how to see ideas processed and put upon the screen--this all distracted me somewhat and kept me going, but couldn't keep me from the nagging question of "What is art for, really?" that ached inside of me.
At this time, heavily blocked creatively, I learned how to be patient with the work, and let it come out as its own snail's pace. I learned to hold on to the ledge by my fingernails, but keep clawing on nonetheless. The 'Breaking Between Commercials' series came at this time, ushered in by the painting, 'What the Mirror Told me It Saw.' The painting is graphic and crude and utterly truthful--a journey that took me a year to complete. I sobbed with exhaustion and relief when it was finally finished. The remaining works in the series are heavily influenced by the fact that I was working in a field where advertising was king.
Other works done during those years might seem oddly cheery when one compares my mental state. Despite their simple subject matters, they were all intended as self-imposed assignments to expand my limits as a painter. The 'Hats' series was done to explore texture and fabrics, as well as commenting on by-gone femininity. I wanted to use hats as a vehicle to convey color, shape, and stroke in much the same way that Wayne Thiebaud portrayed tables of scrumptuously painted pies and cakes. The apple paintings and florals from 2007 were all created as prototypes for large-scale murals. The miscellaneous pieces were all studies, mostly done randomly. I was exploring the philosophy of artist Duane Keiser, who is the originator of the 'painting a day' movement. I discovered that for the most part, I am much too slow-moving to complete a painting a day, but some of the pieces that were completed in that frame of mind were excellent learning devices to learn more realism.
It was during this time I realized that my life-long goal is to become the best surrealist I can possibly be. I think to be able to portray something that is in the psyche in the most realistic way has got to be one of the biggest challenges an artist can tackle."
One of the primary regrets I have from my days when I was represented by commercial galleries is that I rarely got an opportunity to meet my patrons. If you own a Jaeger artwork and would like to send pictures or add your name as a collector, I would greatly appreciate it—and I would love to meet you! I may be contacted at email@example.com.
All work is copyrighted under Cory Jaeger-Kenat. Any use, without permission from the artist, is strictly prohibited.
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