Lost, stuck, and searching, Jenna Lucente’s fragile figures meander through the waters, holding each other for support or fly solo within unknown locations. We peer in at them, at first glance observing a stillness and simplicity that strips away all excess. Lucente’s palette is light and airy with subtle contrasts, but the more one looks, the more one realizes that something has gone awry. The thickly applied paint becomes oppressive. The storybook-gone-wrong references to children who have become lost in the woods or battle against the elements feeds into the tension of these tainted environments. The effects of flooding and climate change are the grownup version of these nightmares.
While the locations feel eerily nondescript, there is an underlying specificity to the components which are well thought-out and researched. Referencing an individual place, location, and/or time, the compositions hold the history of flooded areas. Perhaps that botanical or flower is native to Louisiana, home of flood Katrina, or one found in New York, home to floods Irene and Sandy. There are also hidden allegories, such as using a mourning dove from the biblical story of Noah and the Ark.
Through these paintings, the artist makes you look at the impact of climate change and the new normal in which we are all living. Lucente’s imaginative narratives masterfully balance the innocence of the young figure with the threatening tides. These paintings are a warning to all of us that the waters are rising.