Malia Jensen (American, b.1966) is a Brooklyn-based artist whose Pacific Northwest roots strongly influence her metaphorically rife, contradictory, and often times, perplexing sculpture. As art critic Polly Ullrich notes, “Wildness and domesticity, ‘reality’ and myth, humor and melancholy, jeopardy and sanctuary, clarity and obscurity, impropriety and elegance, mischief and tragedy, the unnerving and the darling, the conceptual and the handmade – all intermingle slyly and at many levels in Jensen’s sculpture.”
The exquisite surfaces and detailing of Jensen’s sculptures lend them an intense physical seductiveness rivaled in their seduction only by the concepts underpinning them. Take, for example, "Debark" (2008); Jensen‘s version of the prototypical hobo stick initially offers a light, adventuresome air. Closer inspection, however, reveals the work’s destabilizing impracticality. The loosely-tied and brightly colored handkerchief is actually made of cast paper, while the almost six foot-long stick is made of solid bronze. Even if the bare
necessities in the bundle were light enough for paper to support, the bronze stick would be far too heavy to carry for any length of time… the idea of escape quickly becomes subverted. In choosing subject matter, Jensen oscillates between animals and inanimate objects, often working on several concepts simultaneously. Further, her titling frequently operates as double entendre, dry witticisms that underscore the nature of the sculpture itself.
Jensen received her BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. She has exhibited work with the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art; The New Museum, New York; the Tacoma Art Museum, Washington; the Holter Museum of Art, Helena, Montana; the Portland Art Museum; the Maryhill Museum of Art, Goldendale, Washington; the Mesa Arts Center, Arizona and the Melbourne International Arts Festival, Australia.