I am an anthropologist by profession, with an area specialty in Japan, although I have also pursued a parallel track as an artist working in paper collage, ceramics, gouache/watercolors, and oils. My artwork, like my scholarship, is informed by a “disciplined eclecticism.” I have an insatiable curiosity that extends to all forms of artistic and aesthetic expression but am especially influenced by contemporary Japanese printmakers and ceramicists.
My relationship with Japan is substantial and integral to my own identity. I was fortunate to have spent my childhood and early teenage years in the Tokyo area, where my parents, both artists, raised me and my three siblings for a decade before returning to the United States. Altogether, I have lived in Japan for nearly twenty-five years and continue to visit annually for one or several months.
I majored in the history of art in preparation for a career in Asian art conservation and restoration, but I later decided to pursue an advanced degree in anthropology as my interests had shifted more to the cultural context and social production of art. After thirty years as a professor of anthropology and the history of art, I retired to Seattle, Washington. My academic background and work are accessible at https://professorjenniferrobertson.com/.
Each medium—paper collage, clay, gouache/watercolor, oil—offers me different modes of engagement. My gouache/watercolors initially spring from spontaneous, or at least less mediated, emotions and feelings, whereas my paper collages call for more craft-like deliberation. I tend to paint figures and “bodyscapes” in oils inspired by compositional elements in Japanese contemporary woodblock prints. Clay offers a splendid tactility and a total immersion in three-dimensions at once. My aim is to experiment with various shapes and surfaces; I also make functional ware. In all of my artistic work, I wish to create interesting forms and compositions that engage visually and interpretatively on several registers. The titles of some series and individual works may be confusing at first glance; many reference Japanese concepts and things (and I often include a translation), and others may be impressionistic, representational, ironic, humorous, and references to outside influences.
I am an Associate Member of the National Watercolor Society, a Signature Member of the Michigan Water Color Society, a member of the Northwest Watercolor Society, a member of Collage Artists of America and a member of the International Ceramic Artists Network.
(I acknowledge and respect the Coast Salish, Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Stillaguamish, and Suquamish peoples on whose traditional territory the community of West Seattle now stands, and whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.)