Jennifer T. Ley
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What are you working on right now?
Glad to be part of the creative community at Manufacturer’s Village, I initially decided to rent a studio space to catalogue my early clay works featuring a cast of mythological women, made at Greenwich House Pottery and Parsons School of Design in the early 80’s, and to dig out some of my early Amiga animations.
One period of that work centers on experiences I had during a trip to Santa Fe and a workshop with Barbara Gonzales, great-grand niece of noted potter Maria Martinez, which gave me an opportunity to learn more about indigenous Pueblo culture. I came close to moving to New Mexico to pursue an MFA then, had visions of setting up my Barbie Dolls (I created a Barbie Doll Mass work in the early 80's) in small caves near Bandelier, of buying a turquoise pick-up truck and hot glueing ball fringe, plastic cowboys and 'Indians' to the dashboard.
But life intervened, keeping me on the East Coast for 30+ years. 35 years later I find myself with a small house in New Mexico and an expanding circle of Native American artist friends who have helped evolve my understanding of indigeneity in the 21st century.
I hope to create an installation that will trace the path of archetypes from distant past to current 21st century reality, shouting out the stereotypes I encountered along the way. Most of us are immigrants in what we now call the United States of America. The desert lands of the Southwest were once a sea.
What would you like to say about Manufacturers Village Artist Community?
I have attended the studio tours for a few years and loved the feeling of community in an older, repurposed building. It reminds me of the NYC of the early 80's when groups like Pan Arts created gallery experiences in abandoned buildings, or of Jersey City before the waterfront redevelopment kicked into high gear. It's a community that I hope can continue to thrive as redevelopment now eyes areas like East Orange, close to transit opportunities. Having a separate space to make art seems an incredible luxury to give myself right now, so I'm grateful that Donna King carved out room in her studio space this August.
What's next for you?
I'm committed to my volunteer work with the Montclair Art Museum and a growing network of indigenous artists I've met, and showcasing that work through MAM's Friends of Native American Art (which also has a facebook group) at