Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenna Balfe.
Jenna, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I am a true Miami Native. My family has been here since the early 1900’s. My Grandfather Alex Balfe was heavy into the maritime business and was responsible for the dredging of the Miami River for large boats to be able to travel on it. He also was involved in the creation of channels in the Bay and the resulting spoil islands.
My connection to this land is very profound. I grew up near Vizcaya, spending most of my time outside in tree’s and with the insects and animals. I was an only child to two parents with severe mental illness. The outdoor world was my refuge. My body the vehicle of escape.
Expression was not a matter of choice for me, but a matter of survival. As I grew into my late teens, I mostly expressed myself as a punk, to my community of fellow goth/punks. I never lost my connection to nature though and would have small private performances to the sky and tree’s that I told no one about.
I began taking dance classes in my early 20’s and started to meet other artists. I had my first solo show at the B.F.I, Miami in 2007. The show was called “Objects Dying, Trying to Live Again”. The show was comprised of sculpture made from objects I would find on 10-12 mile daily walks that were taken during a month long residency at the gallery. During the month, people were invited to come move, play music and help me to create. The opening show had experimental music, performance art and dance. At the end of the show, I was approached by several people to but the art- but being true to my punk rock ethics I refused and proudly destroyed everything there, returning it all back to nature or to the recycling bin.
After this point my development as an artist has been spread out but progressive. In the last 3 years I have been very focused on my practice and my art, working to take it to a new level.
In 2014 I entered a Dance/Movement Therapy program at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. I graduated last year with a Master of Science in the subject. My current work focuses on the body/spirit/nature connection. I am creating connections between performers that will provide a reflexive connection with audience members/viewers to inspire connection to self, other and environment.
My most recent work, Transnaturism, is an ongoing site adaptive narrative. Transnaturism is a play on the Transhumanist movement. Transhumanism theorizes that human beings will evolve beyond our current capacity through the physical adaptation of technologies into the body. Transnaturism theorizes that human evolution will excel to greater heights through an opposite process of moving toward symbiotic and healing relationship with organic life/nature.
Using humor and sincerity as means of exploration Transnaturism looks at the multiple and cyclic points of disconnection between people and the environment. As well as looking at the role spirituality plays in our perception of the natural world and our place in it. We can’t be well without connection to nature, but we can’t connect easily because we primarily interact with nature for resources.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
My work is inspired by the earth’s organic environment and human being’s resonance within the environment or lack thereof. I am interested in creating expression that is meditative and lends itself toward promoting healing of psychic and emotional space while engendering community. I address the philosophical quandary of Death Fear as postulated by theorists such as Carl Jung, Freud and other Existentialist writers. I look at the Western world’s obsession with youth, beauty and biomedical obsession with life prolongation in her work through the lens of the natural world, noting the beauty of decay and death cycles. I focus on physical connection to self and other to bring attention to the importance of earnest empathic connection between people. I believe that Death Fear engenders greed causing ambiguity as to what the purpose of being alive is. Which of course is a question of the ages, but for the purposes of civility, I believe the purpose of life has to do with other people… The disconnect from self and other disconnects us from environment. It is a cycle between, human death fear, lack of connection to self and environment that I explore. My work creates connections between those performing my work which then creates a reflexive connection with audience members/viewers that inspires connection to self. This aliveness of the work lends itself to bringing an awareness to the environment we are performing in and how we bring it alive.
I also am in a band called Donzii which allows me to share my spirit through voice and performance. Right before my father passed away, he told me that I should sing my poems. I sing about topics that are related to my art. I do not see that much separation to be honest. Death Fear, Empathy, Humor and Nature are all part of what I sing about. Our style has been referred to as No Wave, Post Punk, Performance Art, Goth and Funk.
What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
I do. Take any insecurity and throw it into the sun. Watch it burn. Insecurity has been my worst enemy. Since I have started meditating every day at LEAST 10 minutes, my creativity and confidence have soared beyond what I can describe. It even lights up my dream life.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
At present I am offering a movement/improv workshop called Bodymovement that will soon start taking place at Mana Contemporary Miami at 145 E. Flagler St. Miami FL, 33133. They have given me a space in this artist commune where I will be curating different events and workshops such as: dance classes, performance art workshops, improv classes, yoga and more. Updates for these events can be found on our Facebook page:
My current work, Transnaturism will be performed several more times this year. As it is an ongoing site adaptive narrative. Updates on performances can be found on my website: www.jennabalfe.com as well as on my own Facebook page and bodymovement’s page.
- Website: www.jennabalfe.com
- Phone: 3059650817
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: jennabalfe
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toomuchtouch
- Other: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6ezSXwGUhE3a3g6uEr38oU?si=bZsR-J13Qu2t7shyjHIBAw