Philosophy



I'm a "Jen of all trades," master of none, and have worked in many disciplines, but my roots are in printmaking.

First, it is the social medium that pre-dates electricity, and I believe that art exists for dialogue that drives change. The value of sharing what we know is imbedded in the culture of print.

Second, as a woodcut artist, I have a deep understanding of how creating something new requires that we take something away. It’s really easy to want to fix problems by adding more layers, more policies, and to measure achievements only by how much we grow, build, and climb. But how often in our culture do we think about where we need to take away from to achieve the growth we're after? And how many of us can face the fear of what we have to lose, in the process of making great change?

The reality is that nothing is created out of nothing. Matter is neither created nor destroyed. Nature recycles everything. So whether you feel the impact directly or not, when you create something new, something else has been taken away.

One of our pitfalls as people is the polarizing and compartmentalizing of our ideas about the world. At one extreme, you have a culture that defines itself based on its likes and dislikes. At another extreme, you have the backlash of people who define themselves as makers and workaholics, the real contributors to society, who derive value from being busy. At both ends, you have the desire for validation, the expression of self-importance.

Third, my knowledge of what came before me is a reminder that in order to be a teacher and a leader, I need to first, and always, be a student. I study the masters. I study both successes and failures, and surround myself with mentors and peers who are stronger than I am. I review and practice these lessons until they become a part of me. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty. I have a deep respect for education and where we come from, and believe that art and literature hold all the information we need to help us understand where we are going.

My artistic practice is the foundation of all my other pursuits, professional and personal. I have a professional background in teaching and lean manufacturing. I am a process improvement guru and analytical to a fault. I believe in building from the inside out, and everything I ask of others is something I have asked of myself. I respect process and culture and the people who make them. I also know that we, as the same people, can change what we have built.

"What if you make a mistake?" A lot of people ask this question. If you make a mistake in a painting, you can just cover it up. With pencil, you can just erase it. Woodcut and ink are permanent.

The simplest answer is that you don't make mistakes. Really, they just don't exist. Yes, you do have to be willing to own up to your errors. But don't let a fear of failure stop you from making bold moves. The real mistake is never making a decision, and therefore never taking the action to make a mark at all.

Artwork of Jenie Gao

Artwork of Jenie Gao

Artwork of Jenie Gao

Artwork of Jenie Gao

Artwork of Jenie Gao

Artwork of Jenie Gao

Artwork of Jenie Gao

Artwork of Jenie Gao

Artwork of Jenie Gao

Artwork of Jenie Gao

Artwork of Jenie Gao

Artwork of Jenie Gao

Artwork of Jenie Gao

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