Delanie Jenkins at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

Source: Art in America
Publication Date: 01-APR-08

The provocative work of Pittsburgh-based Delanie Jenkins is derived from the detritus of daily existence that she obsessively collects. Her exhibition, created from clementine peels, radish roots, paper towels and her own hair cuttings, entices the viewer to pause and examine the splendor of the everyday. Radix (2007) comprises the delicate roots of over 700 radishes—the amount Jenkins consumed over seven or eight years—pinned with white wires to a curving 26-foot-long wall in a random, flowing configuration. The source of the rose-colored tendrils attached to the wires is not immediately evident; the dried roots become abstracted and seem too delicate and lovely to have come from a common radish.

Another gallery was filled with works inspired by clementine peels. In a playful transformation from 3-D to 2-D and back again, a pair of 60-by-36-inch inkjet prints and a suite of 12 etchings of peels were displayed alongside soft sculptures made from digital prints on canvas. To make these objects, ranging from 12 inches to 4 feet in diameter, Jenkins cut out the images of the peels and stitched them together to form awkward and oddly shaped fruit that appears to be in varying states of decomposition. In another room, cast white chocolate slabs imprinted and etched with the pattern of paper towels were displayed in vitrines; a series of works on paper embossed with the same patterns hung on the walls.

The show's centerpiece, 11,280 strands and counting ..., consists of three approximately 120-by-42-inch inkjet prints on vinyl, each depicting a chopped-off ponytail of Jenkins's auburn hair. The grossly enlarged images invite the viewer to examine each individual strand of hair, which is exactly what Jenkins herself did: each week of the exhibition she spent an allotted time in the gallery counting and measuring the actual strands of these ponytails, recording the data in a small black notebook, and then carefully setting the individual hairs into an archival storage box. This process began a few months before the exhibition, and, with the help of interns, Jenkins was able to count 11,280 strands by the opening of the show. The laboriousness of this piece brings to mind the work of Ann Hamilton, who often references local history in her performance installations. By comparison, Jenkins's work might seem self-indulgent as it relates to her day-to-day existence. Yet through her obsessive activities—collecting, counting, measuring and observing—she crafts a unified whole from fragments and remnants. She assembles the castoff, ordinary moments that seem insignificant but that add up to a poignant record of a life lived.

— Melissa Kuntz