Sketchbook Project
Sketchbook Project

I created this sketchbook for The Brooklyn Art Library as part of the Sketchbook Project. My book will tour the country with over 25,000 other artists' books. On the one hand, that makes my book seem like a small and insignificant fish in a very large sea. On the other hand, my work will be shown in Brooklyn, San Francisco, Chicago, Portland (ME), Austin, Atlanta, Seattle and D.C., which is pretty cool.

Try to see the show at a gallery near you!

Work on Paper
Work on Paper

Although I'm in the midst of an hiatus from artmaking, I made a few small works on paper recently. My inspiration for these comes from biology textbooks.

In earlier drawings, shapes and tendrils suggest synapses, cellular structures, plants, and the human body. Through these forms, I feel I am locating points of interconnection, evidence of the elements which underlie all matter.

Plaster Paintings
Plaster Paintings

I rely on chance to animate the surface and create a structure on which to apply paint. Quasi-organic masses are produced by dropping plaster onto a prepared panel. The resulting bas-relief surfaces are a concrete demonstration of the dynamics of the materiality and viscosity of plaster, acting within the boundaries of gravity and space. When I make the work, I attempt to strike a balance between controlling the flow of plaster and accepting its variable forms. If the color achieves what I intend, it can transform the white plaster surface into a form evoking some living mass or magnified geologic space.

 

Sculptures
Sculptures
Mixed-media three-dimensional pieces.
Scratch Drawings
Scratch Drawings
These drawings are scratched into the surface of collaged glossy magazine paper. The paper is collected from issues of Artforum and other art magazines, where galleries frequently advertise simply with words in a big field of solid color, often black. Cutting up these venerated arbiters of culture, and scratching whatever I please into their pages, is a satisfyingly destructive act.
Paintings
Paintings
These paintings come from looking at objects in the world and science books, and from reading fiction and poetry.
Ann Arbor Art Gallery exhibition
Ann Arbor Art Gallery exhibition

Installation views of the exhibition "Probing the Matter of Substance," a 3-person show at the Ann Arbor Art Center in early 2009. The framed work seen in these shots is by Helen Gotlib. This is the first exhibition showing my sculptural pieces, which are mixed media pieces using plaster and oil, found tree bark, beeswax and a found log.

From a review of the show in the Ann Arbor News, Feb 15, 2009: "Penn's dozen mixed-media works thoroughly dominate the exhibit through their otherworldly plaster patterns." —John Carlos Cantú

Internal Drift Installation
Internal Drift Installation
This site-specific installation was created for a cathedral-style wall in a living room. The title, Internal Drift, comes from the idea that the amoeba shapes reference the cellular structures of the body, cells which replace themselves daily. Cell-like contours contain individual paintings, which are themselves containers of ever smaller shapes. The paintings are suspended, appearing to float in space, in an attempt to convey a sense of movement—which might also convey the notion of unseen processes of renewal and change.
Yard
Yard

These oil paintings have a slightly blurry appearance; this is not due to poor image reproduction. I painted them this way to make them seem "out-of-focus " like their source material.

These 13 paintings make up a series called Yard. This work is based on a single photograph, an old snapshot that holds much more meaning for me than a casual observer could ever see in it.

Using a scan of the photo, I made numerous crops, each one blown up anywhere from 200% to 3000%. I used printouts of the crops as source material to make the paintings. Each transformation of the photo—through scanning, cropping, enlargement, and the act of painting— results in another layer of distortion. By using photographic source material, this work suggests preservation, while decay is implied in the process of degradation through enlargement.