A visitor walks into a square room the size of a dance hall. A bald naked sculpture lies on its back with her head pulled upward by thin red fabric. It unfurls several feet above like a plum of flame. Around the corner a film flickers on a movie-theatre-sized projection screen. This screen features silent figures, some with long-snouted masks, holding a ritualized burial. On the walls, photographs of a once proud, now crumbling Catholic Church are framed besides ethereal paintings depicting departures and the hope of unbelievable journeys. Welcome to the dream world of painter, sculptor, photographer, film-maker and dress-designer Jenny Lee Maas.
Maas is an artist from Pattenburg, NJ. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2010 from the Maine College of Art where she was a sculpture major and a drawing minor. Her work has been featured at several venues in Philadelphia. The most recent being a 2011 exhibition at the Fourth Wall Gallery.
Her art will be showcased at the Thought Lot until December. During this unveiling on Friday, Maas debuted her second-short-film “Preceding Dawn.” Later she replayed both her films starting with the original short “Procession at Dawn.”
A consistent crowd of several dozen people were in attendance browsing Maas’ films, photographs, paintings and sculptures. Many could pinpoint a consistent theme in her art.
“I would say a lot of her stuff is about self-realization,” said Shippensburg student Chris Winters. “Most of the time she is either depicting a different reality or a path away from this one.”
At the event, Maas said most of her ideas originate in her dreams. Often she will do multiple pieces across several mediums covering one dream. Maas uses her films as the legend of her work. Many of her sculptures make appearances in her short-cinemas. These views of her pieces in the dynamic setting of film result in a better understanding of her projects.
Portions of the proceeds from the Thought Lot’s exhibition went toward the budget for her third film. She has written 20.
“The idea is that they are shorts that in the end can all be connected together to be one long story,” Maas said. “They are all based off of dreams, symbology, guides, drama, fear and overcoming fear.”
Maas also designs dresses for several Jazz musicians. Maas said that her entrance into dress design was random but that she really enjoys the work.
“It’s just a niche I fell into, kind of by accident, but I love it,” Maas said. “Because I love making sparkly avant garde things, it’s perfect.”
Several times during the night Maas praised the Thought Lot.
“I think (the Thought Lot) is awesome. I really do,” Maas said. “What this team has been doing is really cool, I think that a lot of the public art that I’ve been doing is changing communities, and here I see the same thing.”
Maas is planning on holding a similar showing of her work at Shippensburg University sometime before the end of the fall semester. Her hope is that her pieces allow viewers to gauge and increase their awareness and perception.
“It’s a beautiful thing. Art can be fantastic,” Maas said. “Every time there is something going on within humanity, whenever the government can’t talk about it or it has to be swept under the carpet for some reason, art has always been the first facet speaking out.”