Catching up with artist Jasmine Cadenhead

Returning from her hometown in Canada, our good friend Jasmine Cadenhead shares a glimpse of her day-to-day as an artist, her inspirations and some of her favorite projects, which includes grannies hitting the streets to do some tagging!

What’s your work day like?
I think I am lucky in a sense that my work days starts differently all the time—It really depends on the body of work. If I’m in Oaxaca, I often find myself seeking out new pigments, in Mexico City I’ll go to el centro and sift through copious amounts of textiles. Other days I am brainstorming in the studio alone or with other designers and artists. A huge majority of my work time is the preparation for the piece, the materials, pigments, and canvas. It all means a lot to me so it’s important to slow down and take the time to seek out quality materials and to learn about the people and the environment around me.  

What are you working on at the moment?
The recent pandemic has of course impacted my work, and has made access to materials and [slowed the] thought process around the work. The virus has rewritten our imagination and as Olafur Eliasson states, “What felt impossible has become thinkable”. I am currently looking at more sustainable art works. I have begun making dyes from natural sources; my experiments have started at home in the kitchen pigments – carrot peels, onion skins, and beet reductions – yield unexpected results: red onions, for example, create green pigment. The same materials sometimes produce strikingly different colours.

As a Therapist and an Artist, I hope to continue my exploration on how we store and dismantle memories in the body and what that can look like visually. This paired with a natural dye bath process, I hope to create some very large scale works. 

What medium do you work with? And what is your favorite?
Historically I [largely]  use a non- toxic resin as the main component of my work. The exploration of the resins reaction with other materials is a constant source of inspiration. 

Often letting the environment dictate materials, I seek to use local and sustainable pigments. Currently living in Mexico City I source pigments such as Cochinilla insect and Mayan indigo.  

I also source pigments from John Sabraw. John is currently working with a team of scientists, artists, engineers, and watershed specialists who are working to intercept river pollution. Some of the pigments used in past works are the extract heavy metal iron oxide from the river beds that have been turned into pigments. Once the pigments are extracted Johns team is returning the clean and safe water back to the stream, restoring aquatic life. 

How do you know when a piece is completed?
I don’t feel like the work is truly ever “done”. I like to think of it on a journey.  I like the idea of adding and taking away aspects constantly. Sometimes after an exhibition [the pieces take a second life] after I’ve seen the human interaction with them in the space. When the public views art in a gallery or exhibition, they become a co-producer of the content they are viewing. For example, I recently installed a sculpture I sold in a clients home. The client and I spent hours finding the perfect spot for the piece and we ended up rearranging the work and drilled the sculpture directly to a piece of furniture in his home— something really unexpected for me. So even in the clients home, the work at times continues to evolve. 

Who/what inspires your work?
Right now I am really inspired by the work and thinking of Olafur Eliasson. His art is driven by his interests in perception, movement, embodied experience, and feelings of self. He is known for transforming large spaces for artwork that the viewer not only participates in, but is often the key component. Historically the work of female American abstract expressionist painter, Helen Frankenther—she was a major contributor to the history of postwar American painting. She has inspired me to work on a larger scale and be unapologetic about taking up space as a female in the industry. 

What is the wildest project that you’ve done/been commissioned to do?
My favorite project was for sure my Graffiti Grannies. Our “graffiti gang” was composed of seniors and youth from our community. Our oldest “gang member” was 85 years of age and our youngest was 19 years old. 

This integrational project attempted to bridge the gap between young and old by giving the seniors and the youth an innovative and artist experience. The seniors were given a chance to communicate their story to the youth through graffiti, an art form usually youth driven and frowned upon. We then hit the streets armed with spray paint, walkers and wheelchairs to create a colorful and relevant message.There is power in art, there is strength in community and age means nothing.