Arts Writing

Malia Jensen: “Nearer Nature”

by Sara Krajewski

Editor Stephanie Snyder invited Portland Art Museum Curator Sara Krajewski to interview artist Malia Jensen about her major work, Nearer Nature.

SARA KRAJEWSKI: The title of the project, Nearer Nature, has me thinking about the relational and about proximity. Who is nearer to nature or needs to be? How do we move toward nature and what is that relationship like?

MALIA JENSEN : In part the title describes my own literal action of getting out of the studio but I also enjoy how the slurry alliteration of Nearer Nature feels awkward to say. Just saying it requires an effort that feels foreign but implies genuine longing. Getting closer to nature could mean ten-mile hikes or simply being attentive to what you eat.


This essay was edited by Stephanie Snyder, John and Anne Hauberg Curator and Director, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College, and appeared in CONDITIONS, a publication of The Ford Family Foundation. The annual arts journal (shifting title as it progresses) is part of the program element CRITICAL CONVERSATIONS, led by the University of Oregon with partners Portland State University, The Cooley Gallery, Reed College; and PNCA at Willamette University.

The title and concept for CONDITIONS came into focus as the editorial team launched its first issue, FIGURING. Here, we shift from FIGURING’s multiple perspectives on the body and the psyche to examine the cultural and biological mysteries and actualities of life at this tenuous environmental and socio-political moment. As our need for breath and sustenance are foregrounded across an accounting of our shared lives, we hope that CONDITIONS offers a space to meditate on the ways in which works of art (including writing) support us in making meaning from our state of, and provisions for, being. 

Featured Contributors: Amelia Rina, Laura Butler Hughes, Luiza Lukova, Sara Krajewski, Malia Jensen, Lumi Tan, Steph Littlebird, Ido Radon, Alejandro Espinoza Galindo, Stephanie Gervais, Stephanie Snyder, K. Silem Mohammad, Prudence Roberts, Sara Jaffe.