We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Asher and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I am passionate about what I do so that makes working incredibly gratifying, but my priority has always been my family first. They are my greatest joy. While my work provides both great personal and creative rewards, I consciously try to be present for my personal life as much as I can. To be honest, the balance that I’ve found most challenging is the time I spend creating and designing sculpture vs. the time I spend running a studio business. I have a business partner who helps run the admin side so I can focus on making sculpture.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
“Everything I learned in my life, I learned because I decided to try something new.” David Lynch said that I love that quote because it perfectly describes my life. I am an intensely curious person and that curiosity has fueled my journey of finding my passion, which I have made into my life’s work.
As a child my family moved from the east coast to Northern California where I experienced life in some of the most gorgeous and inspiring natural landscapes on earth. This absolutely influenced me as a human being and an artist. Everything we have to learn comes from nature.
My mother is a fashion designer and has an amazing eye. If you had asked my younger self, I never in a million years thought I would end up in an artistic profession like hers, but after 12 years producing documentaries post college, I pivoted and returned to school to study landscape architecture which always greatly intrigued me.
My passion for creating outdoor sculpture happened gradually and organically. I practiced landscape design for several years in Los Angeles and began envisioning abstract sculptural forms for the landscapes I was designing. I became fascinated, and still am, by the striking contrast when bold clean forms are introduced into the unrestrained beauty and chaos of nature. Thus began my journey creating abstract sculpture specifically for the landscape. Sculpture in nature is compelling, impactful and totally non-ephemeral. The permanence fascinates me.
After my first sculpture installation, fellow landscape designers and architects I knew began commissioning me to create sculptures for their landscapes. Over the next few years, I transitioned my practice from landscape designer to (landscape) sculptor. I also designed a collection of functional sculpture for the garden: modern trellis, arbors and supportive garden structures that become living art when integrated with plants. These are quite often used in edible landscapes in homes, schools and public gardens.
In addition to private collectors, I collaborate with architects, designers, art dealers and art consultants all over the world. Because I was trained as a landscape designer, I can read scaled architectural plans and I’m able to converse artistically and technically with architects, site engineers and contractors. To understand their language has been immensely helpful to getting my sculpture into the landscape, in front of people to enjoy and experience.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in near Topanga Canyon and not a week goes by when I am not hiking in the Santa Monica mountains. The sculptural forms of the chaparral landscape completely humble me, especially the majestic Coast Live Oak trees which are native to this area. Seeing the mountains come back after the devastating fires of 2018 is beyond inspiring. The resilience of nature is extraordinary.
A perfect day with a visiting friend would be to meet at the Topanga Gourmet in Topanga Canyon, grab a fresh Gjusta bakery baguette plus some fruit and cheese and head up into the canyon. We would hike the Topanga Fire Road about seven miles out and back to the Park Mesa Overlook which has a stunning and commanding view the entire coast and all of Los Angeles.
After the hike, we’d drive up to Malibu for lobster rolls and cold beers on the picnic tables at Broad Street Oyster Company. If there’s still daylight we would walk across PCH to the Malibu Lagoon, a beautiful estuary and coastal restoration area with incredible birdwatching. There we would catch some magic hour views of the mountains and then watch the surfers at Surfrider Beach.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My first shoutout goes to the many female artists, sculptors, architects and designers who paved the way for women like me in a domain traditionally dominated by men. The creative genius and achievement of artists like Ruth Kazawa, Maya Lin, Tara Donovan, Louise Bourgeois, Zaha Hadid and Sheila Hicks have all influenced my work and inspire me both creatively and personally every day.
I wouldn’t have a sculpture practice without the amazing support of my business partner and our studio team – a multi-generational family of metal fabricators with whom I collaborate to shear, bend, weld, polish and paint my sculpture. I was lucky enough to connect with these talented people in south Los Angeles. It’s a dream team that makes my vision come to life every day.
I also want to thank my incredible family for their love and patience during my journey as a professional artist. Being both a working artist and a mother is not always easy and I am grateful their support and how they believe in me.
Adam Grossman Rachel Apririan Samantha Brown