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  • Gendron Jensen
  • Gendron Jensen

Series on Resurrection in Nature

Aug. 18 – Dec. 23, 2016


“Certain tiny relics loomed more largely and seemed to summons me.” - Gendron Jensen

For more than forty years Gendron Jensen, a largely self-taught artist now living in New Mexico, has obsessively and lovingly transformed found relics into wakeful images of uncommon beauty. The Series on Resurrection in Nature, created between January 1969 and March 1970, consists of sixteen 60 x 72 inch finely detailed graphite drawings of small natural phenomena found on the land surrounding Saint Benedict’s Abbey in Benet Lake, Wisconsin.

A Wisconsin native, Jensen spent his childhood in the northwoods near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. In 1960 Jensen entered the novitiate at Saint Benedict's Abbey, where he was given the monastic name of Ansgar. Jensen left the abbey in 1961, before taking his triennial vows. However, he returned in 1966 as a lay person in order to work in the abbey’s print shop.

During that time Jensen began to carve a large figure of St. Michael from a black walnut log. “When the abbot found out I was creating a black angel,” Jensen writes, “he put end to the venture, so I turned to drawing, teaching myself from scratch.” Jensen went on long walks on the land surrounding the abbey, collecting and saving small natural phenomena such as a grasshopper thigh, a dandelion node, and a raccoon skull. He then rendered these “tiny relics” in graphite pencil drawings, first at the scale of 11 x 14 inches and then at 18 x 24 inches. The process concluded with final 60 x 72 inch drawings.

As Jensen notes, the drawings are meant to be seen as a series:

When viewed in its entirety, mounted sequentially on walls, there is an evident unfurling with bold tonal contrasts beginning, as with the intensity of birth and youthful beginnings, going on biographically within mature, quieter span of adulthood, serenely lifting delicately off till raccoccoon, with some tonal fanfare within ad corraccoon giving bolder finale in the monumental sequence.

Gendron Jensen’s masterful drawings bring large-scale grandeur to some of nature’s smallest treasures. They invite us to meditate on the inner life that the artist perceives in nature’s many forms.

Support for this exhibition and accompanying programs is provided by the Beatrice Haggerty Endowment Fund, Friends of the Haggerty Museum of Art, the John P. Raynor, S.J. Endowment Fund, the Lillian Rojtman Berkman Endowment Fund, the Mary Martha Doerr Endowment Fund, the Stackner Family Endowment Fund, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.


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