From a very first look at these wonderfully detailed colored pencil sculptures by Jennifer Maestre, it should come as no surprise that her artwork was initially inspired by spiny sea urchins – beautiful, but dangerous to the touch. Maestre subverts the medium of colored pencils in an unexpected way. Instead of drawing with them, she transforms them into a raw material in dazzling arrays of colors.
For each sculpture, Jennifer hacks apart hundreds of colored pencils, cores them perpendicular to their length and turns them into beads, essentially, which she then meticulously stitches back together and slowly shapes into solid sculptures. These unusual animal-themed works of art almost look like the real thing at first glance.
Though her beginnings were with creatures of the water, Jennifer quickly expanded her subject matter to cover other organic objects – from plants and flowers to house pets and more abstract animals.
While some of her work has a planned form from the very beginning, other pieces morph and shift as they take shape into something completely unplanned but nonetheless compelling.
“My sculptures were originally inspired by the form and function of the sea urchin. The spines of the urchin, so dangerous yet beautiful, serve as an explicit warning against contact. The alluring texture of the spines draws the touch in spite of the possible consequences. The tension unveiled, we feel push and pull, desire and repulsion. The sections of pencils present aspects of sharp and smooth for two very different textural and aesthetic experiences.”
“Paradox and surprise are integral in my choice of materials. Quantities of industrially manufactured objects are used to create flexible forms reminiscent of the organic shapes of animals and nature. Pencils are common objects, here, these anonymous objects become the structure. There is true a fragility to the sometimes brutal aspect of the sculptures, vulnerability that is belied by the fearsome texture. ”
While her work continues to evolve, this incredible artist has had dozens of exhibitions over the past decade and has also won numerous awards, pushing herself in new directions while exploring the limits of her unique approach.