Jennifer (Tova) Vasher is an interdisciplinary artist working with drawing, sculpture, and architectural installations to explore the psychological and environmental landscapes of contemporary American society. Working with mediums that range from petroleum jelly to resin-coated pharmaceuticals, she critiques consumer culture and the cult of cleanliness. Vasher’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Mesa Contemporary Art Museum in Phoenix, Transformer in Washington DC, Lawndale Art Center in Houston, Albuquerque Art Museum, 516 Arts in Albuquerque, as well as l'Ecole d'art Claude Monet, Aulnay sous Bois, and Fondation D'Enterprise in France.
Vasher received a BFA from Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, attended the l’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Pont Aven France, and received an MFA from the University of New Mexico. She is an Instructor of Studio Art and Art History at Central New Mexico Community College and Southwestern Indian Community College in Albuquerque. Vasher is the visual outreach developer for Central New Mexico Community College's independent union.
With her husband and collaborator, architect Max Vasher, Jennifer lives in the village of Placitas, New Mexico, where they are completing an organically-designed, sustainable studio home.
Jennifer Vasher turns everyday objects into works of conceptual art that comment on the hypocrisies and dichotomies laced throughout our sociopolitical landscape.
"Her style is interdisciplinary, her media everything from paint and charcoal to the refuse of our consumerist culture. While she cites as influences “material-based” artists like Louise Bourgeois and Eva Hesse, books are her main inspirations. A voracious reader, her work does with sculpture, installations, and drawings what many of her literary idols, like Margaret Atwood and Naomi Klein, do on the page—that is, call things out. “Basically, I’m doing the things that make me go ahem,” she says, clearing her throat in that way that says bullshit. “But I keep Bill Moyers in mind,” she says, “and try to be comparative rather than declarative.”
As such, her work invites multiple interpretations, like the molded rubber “body condoms” from which nude bodies are either emerging or struggling to free themselves from suffocation or consumption; the steel “test tube” injected with gooey layers of motor oil, petroleum jelly, and liquid rubber; and the serene-yet-suffocating space of the installation Spa-alter.
Then there are the pills, millions of them, varnished to shine like little jewels in a number of works, including Entitlement: The Past Is Never Dead and Buried (Tylenol Room). Two years in the making and exhibited from 2008–2011 in galleries throughout the US and in Paris, the installation comprises more than 500,000 over-the-counter pain pills that Jennifer drilled and strung by hand into garlands hung curtain-like around a white chaise lounge. The space is both restful—just let go and take your medicine—and restive, an indictment of the over-medication of society, our insistence on a pill for every ill.
Power Pumps and Super Sprays: Weapons of the Anthropocene also bites. Exhibited at Richard Levy Gallery in Albuquerque from August through September 2021, it features the familiar shapes of cleaning products and cosmetic containers turned into surreal vessels of what Jennifer calls the cult of cleanliness. With their candy colors and surfaces as airbrushed as the complexion of an Instagram influencer, they evince a humorous, sci-fi absurdity. But recalibrate your attention and they exude menace, medical instruments culling all that is unclean, never mind the damage to our mental and environmental health.
Although created long before COVID-19 hit, Jennifer is aware of how the work might also be interpreted post-pandemic, and she’s fine with that. “It’s okay to be provocative, it’s okay to question. That’s what artists do.” - BY RENA DISTASIO -Trend Magazine Art+Architecture+Design 2022