spacer1 spacer2 spacer3
logo about art header spacer4
Go to home page.
Go to The Work.
Go to About the Art
Go to The Workshop
Go to Bios, Reviews, Information
Go to Links page.
Go to Contact page.

"Jenny Feder's house sculptures combine literary text and architectural forms to shape a nostalgia for our fictional pasts."  
Robin Becker, author of Domain of Perfect Affection, Penn State University

The simplest shape of a house — four walls and a roof — speaks to almost everyone. Anything can live inside.

My first small wooden house was covered in plaid and made for the miniature plastic dogs I gave my brother for his birthday. This small house delighted me. It felt familiar, like a long lost object you remember, but never had.

I am an avid collector: A major part of my creative process is the pleasure I get in organizing and arranging the bits and pieces I use to make my sculptures. I rarely start with a plan, more likely a scrap of metal or detail from a book will call out and I go from there.

For me, it's in my workshop itself, that ideas grow and sculptures begin. I have dozens of drawers of images divided by subject, cabinets full of dice, discarded doll house parts hanging on a wall, tea tins divided by design, metal thermoses grouped together by pattern, wire and string in a box, printed plates, cigar boxes and doll hands displayed on a shelf. My major collection is of books in all forms: book jackets, end papers, spines, title pages, embossed leather covers, bindings, and dedication pages.

Everything has its place. I refine and enhance, until I start the building. And then all hell breaks loose. When it’s over, and the workshop is in chaos, I regroup by rearranging and reorganizing the bits of tin, book spines and title pages, keys and wire pieces that are left over, and they in turn inspire my next spurt of activity.

For more than 20 years I had the great pleasure of working with books as co-owner of a small bookshop in New York. I am well aware of the magic of the object itself — something you hold in your hands that has great power. We built with books, stacked, packed, shelved and displayed with them, made sets for them, and in fact ultimately built a whole shop, a kind of living theater all around them. After handling so many, I feel that some small part of their being was pressed into my hands.

This connection with books has informed and enriched every part of my work. The feeling of familiarity when you see a book you know, is the essential sense I strive hardest for when making these pieces.

Every house tells its own story, as much by the words or title as by the materials' implications. Beneath the surface, however, are layers of other lives, painted and plastered over again and again — but unlike Pentimento — those layers will not be revealed by time.

I want these small objects to feel as though they have already lived a long life and are soaked in memories – to beam with the recognition of something known – but still secret.

Like the deepest richest wooden railing, smoothed for years by many hands, I often paint over the outside of the sculptures repeatedly, always looking for the layer that ends the sentence and the glow that shines with life.