In her glass and mirror works, Nicolette Jelen creates intricate depth and space through a meticulous layering of fragile materials – glass, mirror and handmade paper. Her processes reflect Jelen’s own complex history, and the places she has called home, from Morocco to Paris, Hungary and New York.
In her copper plate engravings, Jelen’s first love, multiple plates are combined to impart color, shape and the impression of depth. In her recent works, Jelen employs multiple layers of engraved and silvered glass to create her deep light boxes.
Jelen is a purist for material and technique, be it printmaking, glass-cutting, soldering, or mirroring. The challenge of craft is a constant concern in her work as she commands and transforms resistant raw materials into the desired object. The effects are unexpected, fantastic, utterly out of the ordinary. What emerges in the end is often a surprise to her, a gift – Jelen says. We are left with these magical, vertiginous surfaces.
The iconic and symbolic image of the tree appears and reappears in Jelen’s oeuvre through the varied mediums of paint, inked paper and glass. Jelen superimposes delicate branches and leaves onto her industrial, manufactured, hard-edged surfaces and boxes, inviting our eyes to follow the passage of light through the crisscrossing vortex of organic tendrils and twine – into swirling nests or the promise of a secret garden.
The duality and dialogue between the abstract and the representational is ever present, overlapping the natural world of trees and forms captured into glass and metal. This duality extends into Jelen’s thin, mirrored surfaces which nevertheless convey endless depth, and ultimately lead to a transcendent dialogue between reality and illusion.
The light boxes capture the artist’s delight, and are filled with a smaller world of enchantment. As we see ourselves reflected in the silvery surfaces of Jelen’s mirrors and glass surfaces, we are transported into that world as Alice was lead into Wonderland through tiny rooms. We are drawn through the looking-glass itself into a kind of arboreal wonderland. It’s as if we are peering at our own reflections on the magical surface of a still-water pond.
Born and raised in Morocco, Nicolette received several degrees at the Sorbonne in Paris, and completed further studies in New York at the Art Students League and at Pratt Graphic Center while working at the Printmaking Workshop. She currently has a studio and press in Sag Harbor.
Nicolette’s work has been published and distributed in the U.S. and Internationally by John Szoke, Hugh McKay, Vincent Fitzgerald, Ronbie Editions, Progressive Editions and Atlantic Art. For the past five years Nicolette has been exhibiting at selected fairs in the U.S., from California to New York, where she has won a number of awards.
MA Sorbonne – University of Paris, Sorbonne
Pratt Graphics Center, New York
Art Students League of New York
2002 – 2011 Group Exhibitions in New York and Sag Harbor
The Department of State
The Library of Congress
The Toledo Museum
The Children’s Museum of Minnesota