Jennifer Hales of Bug and Boy Art is an artist and storyteller specializing in creating her unique style of ‘thrift store art.’ Jennifer frequents thrift stores looking for donated or discarded art pieces, looking for the perfect piece to revamp, update, and restore for display. It all started with a quest to find frames for artwork inherited from her great-grandmother. “I went to the thrift store to find frames. I cannibalized the pictures that were already in the frames so that I could put my stuff in them. It made me sad. I was throwing out someone else’s work. It may have been no longer relevant, but I didn’t want to waste it. They had put their heart into that work, and I was just going to throw it away,” explained Jennifer. “I value other people’s work, but it was no longer relevant to the times, so because I didn’t want their work discarded I added my own work to it, to make it relevant again. I was raised on the idea that we don’t waste anything. There is a use for everything. Using this philosophy I found a new life for these pieces again so that they wouldn’t have to be thrown away and wasted.”
Hales received her arts education from Arizona State University, where she earned her degree in Inter-Media with a specialization in video and performance art. Through the course of her studies, Jennifer was exposed to various types of media, including oil painting, drawing, ceramics, sculpture, 3D animation and mixed media. “The idea behind an Inter-media degree was that artistic expression didn’t have to always happen in the same medium and that depending on what you are trying to convey through your art, the medium can change accordingly. With the art theory classes, we emphasized that art is philosophy, and is a tool for conveying and idea more than just trying to depict the beautiful,” says Jennifer. “This idea is by far the most important thing that I took away from my degree. I don’t ever feel confined to any one particular medium. For example, aside from the thrift store work that I currently sell, I also do a fair bit of cake sculpture, writing, and am looking to get back into watercolor.”
As a way to battle her own self-diagnosed ADD, Jennifer enjoys exploring various mediums. Finding completed, discarded paintings in thrift stores is a way for her to add her own spin to the original artist’s intent, making something new using the existing narrative within the piece. “In many of the pieces, there is open space where I can easily fill in, what to me, are missing details to the story that was originally being told,” Hales shares. “Open ground or fields are a prime target for filling in and changing the intent of the original piece. The other thing I look for is what completes the story; would it change if a character is no longer what it seems on the surface? My goal is to change the entire story or intent of the original artist to turn it on its head. If it is just an innocent girl, she is now doing something out of character, if there are animals maybe there is an extra baby in the litter that doesn’t fit. It is not just about finding a good piece, but also changing the meaning of what the original artist was looking for when they created it. I want to put my own meaning into a scene that is current and new, things that people are interested in because the original piece already told a story that everyone had heard. I want to tell one that no one has heard.”
You can learn more about Jennifer Hales and Bug And Boy art by connecting with her on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out her blog, where you’ll find posts about Jennifer’s work and artistic experiences. If you are interested in checking out Jennifer’s artwork, be sure to visit her Etsy shop to see finished and available pieces for sale.
Special thanks to Jennifer Hales for participating in our interview! We hope to see more of her work in the future.
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