JENNIFER DALTON: 20 Unambiguous Questions

On May 23rd, 2006, Contributing Editor Jenny Walty met Jennifer Dalton at her home in Brooklyn, NY. Jen’s SEED Project will be included in the next issue of Art World Digest.

AWD: How did you become an artist?
JENNIFER DALTON:I always liked to draw but I wasn’t certain I wanted to be a visual artist, I thought about being a writer or a musician as well as an artist when I was in high school. I didn’t know I wanted to be an artist until I got to UCLA for college. I took a drawing class and it just felt right. It was also the first time I met other people who were interested in art.

AWD: What kind of experiences do you think were most valuable to your art career?
JENNIFER DALTON: When I got to grad school, there was a professor at Pratt who was not careerist or well known, but he was an amazing teacher. He acted like none of us would ever have an art career, which was typical of our professors. When I was there the faculty members were not exhibiting artists for the most part, and were very cynical about the art world. But there were some good teachers who taught us how to make art. Zak was one of the good ones, he taught sculpture (his name was Robert Zakarian but everybody called him Zak). He was really good at analyzing art and breaking it down into parts that had meaning. It was so helpful, he was able to distill what made good art and it’s something I still think about.

AWD:I was going to ask you to distinguish experiences that influenced your art-making practice as opposed to your art career but it sounds like they were the same ones.
JENNIFER DALTON:Another thing that really helped was a group of friends of mine from Pratt formed a crit group after we graduated. We met for about three years every month at a different person’s studio. It got too big and kind of exploded, but for the first couple years it was really helpful. Artists who were in the group would invite friends who were interested and it grew to be really big, but you can’t have 25 artists in your studio, it’s too many. It got harsh sometimes but honest; most people intended to be respectful. It was a reason to keep working, people were coming to see your work and it was a deadline to make work for. We learned a lot from each other.

AWD: How many of the people who were in this group are artists now represented by galleries, or are prof