I have always seen the boat as a form of escape; a way out or perhaps a way in. In many cultures boats are still used for hunting and fishing and as a way to move goods in and out of communities, and even function as a place to live and work. They become a life force, a necessity in the most basic of ways.
To suite my needs the boat must be transformed into a vessel that can do and be many things. It not only functions on the basic level of providing transportation but it must also function as a vessel to carry the home, to provide safety and shelter or to bolster one’s defenses.
Living near the Gulf Coast in southern Mississippi for over a decade now I have had the experience of seeing many communities live through the devastation of both Katrina and the BP oil spill. These events have had a real impact on my work and how I look at my relationship to both the on-water (boats) and on-land structures (homes) that make up most of my work. These structures begin to take on new meanings where they become the shelter of last resort. In the cases of land owners in shoreline communities the homes can represent the unobtainable dream of rebuilding and existing in places now forbidden or foreboding.
Jennifer Torres was born in Queens, NY and with her family moved to Teaneck, New Jersey where she lived for many years. She did her first four years of studio training as a teenager at the Art Students League in New York City and then her undergraduate work at the Cooper Union, also in NYC. While at Cooper, she took a year off to travel solo in India and Nepal for a year. This trip was a turning point in her life and a great influence in her work. After graduating from Cooper she trained as a fine cabinetmaker in New England, and later worked at a lumber mill in Oregon before finally going to graduate school at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA, receiving an MFA in sculpture.
Ms. Torres has a deep love for all types of watercraft, she has spent much time studying their various forms and mastering traditional building techniques used not only for constructing actual replicas of native Inuit watercraft but also as the base for many of the structures that make up her current body of work.
Ms. Torres currently lives in Hattiesburg, MS where she has her studio and teaches sculpture and ceramics as an Associate Professor at The University of Southern Mississippi.