“To the end of the lived life add,
Continue writing it!”
– translated from a traditional shaman’s song, Siberia.
Hi there. I’m Jen Fries. Artist, writer, designer. New Yorker by nature, New Englander by inclination. Born under the sign of Aquarius in the year of the Rabbit. I live in beautiful Somerville, Massachusetts, in an apartment chosen for its light, with two cats and my dear and sainted mother.
I make collages and sculptures, write dark and fantastic fiction, and design toys of various kinds.
But what I really do is tell stories. Sometimes I use text, sometimes images, sometimes both. I might write thousands of words, or boil an epic myth down to a single image, but I am always telling a story – even if I don’t always say what it is.
The job of the arts is to tell stories about us, our society, the experiences we share. In this spinning world, in which everything is connected to everything else, stories happen everywhere we look. And with each glance, we spin off new tales.
My goal is to illustrate some of those stories as they happen and to provoke more of them. I want my work to trigger brainstorms of connections, memories, and insights – to do my part to keep us all writing our world.
Mixed media all the way. I build things out of other things in both art and writing. My favorite materials are paper and words, and I add to them whatever I need to get the desired effect – found images, random scraps, improvised props. I recently began working with miniatures and my own photography to construct theatrical scenes. In my writing, I like to follow random prompts and rules, and I plot my scenes with Tarot cards.
Three madnesses guide my methods:
Experimentation: Necessity is the mother of invention, and curiosity killed the cat – wait, that might not be right. Anyway, I mix my materials and techniques freely, often just to see what will happen. Even writing is subject to experimentation. I recently started drafting manuscripts with a dip pen – just like Jane Austen.
Environmentalism: I live in my workspace and on Earth, so I pursue non-toxic creative practice. I recycle materials, use hand tools, and work mostly by natural light. In 2019, I will phase out petroleum-based materials in favor of homemade, food-based glues and paint additives. My goal is a handmade, human-powered, fume-free, low-waste studio.
Affordability: I want everyone to be able to buy my work. This means striking a balance between pricing and rent. It’s a work in progress. I do it by keeping overhead low and by bending genres in a way. My work is growing into a hybrid between fine art and literature. Many projects will ultimately be available in several formats and price ranges, including one-off originals, prints, digital formats, and published books.
Be sure to follow this site via the button below and/or join my email list on the Contact page to keep track of what will surely be exciting developments.