Of all the nonliving objects in the world, there is not one more fundamentally linked to paradoxes than the egg. For centuries, philosophy students, metaphor analyzers, and breakfast ponderers have craved the unknowable answer to the question, which came first: the chicken or the egg? It is a question so stumping that the very words "chicken and egg" have developed two interspacial hyphens and evolved into an adjective effectively meaning paradox (e.g. a chicken-and-egg situation). With this uncrackable bond, some might begin to wonder, which came first: the egg metaphor or paradoxes themselves.
It is with this object, the richly mind-scrambling egg, that mixed-media artist Jennifer Ross creates equally complex artworks. Her contemporary realist paintings of nested eggs first invite the viewer in with their peaceful beauty and then captivate with their unfolding complexities.
"My hope is that on a second glance, the view sees more depth and meaning than just the surface," says Jennifer. "Maybe when they really look, they can see all the paradoxes in my artwork."
This search for meaning is quickly met and exceptionally rewarding. The egg is deceptively simple, especially when it comes to art. In an interview, Jennifer recalls that in her earliest days of painting someone told her that one of the hardest subjects to paint is the egg. The viewer is also confronted with the egg's difficulties. If the viewer is not whisked away by chicken-and-egg questions, there are dozens of paradox options.
"Complex versus simple, freedom versus security, light versus shadow, strength versus fragility, safety versus vulnerability," says Jennifer naming several available paradoxes in her own artwork.
Using broken fragments of eggshells, Jennifer carries the significance of her artwork to the material level. Jennifer quite literally makes every composition a puzzle, fitting together the broken chips like, in Jennifer's words, "an all white puzzle."
She reassembles the broken eggshells as a Japanese Kintsugi artist reassembles broken pottery. The fissures and gaps between the fragments make an art more beautiful, more precious than ever before. Imperfection is the center of its beauty.
With this irregular and unconventional beauty, the eggs' jagged textures show the perfection and, even, paradox, of life's experiences, undoings, and breakdowns. These are paintings of hope, rebirth, and anticipation. They are their own egg-paradox, showing how beauty, life, and perfection emerge amid the nest's tangle of twigs and the shell's shattered shield.