Raised in the performing arts, Jennifer Smith, now known by her married name, Jennifer Barongan, was taught for 15 years to create art with her entire body through movement. She believes this is the most vulnerable state of being an artist. To her, this is where performance meets visual art. Within 2 years after abruptly ending her career in the performing arts, finding that she was unable to move in such ways, she became a model, to turn her artwork into still life. During these few years, in her downtime, she began to classify herself as a true artist and she started to play with mixed media design. She began with simple acrylic paints on canvas, wood, and various textiles and continued on to collage, using any recycled materials that would have otherwise been discarded.
After parting ways from the modeling scene, She spent a few years consigning her artwork at retail shops in Norfolk, VA and Harrisonburg, VA, submitting her artwork to various art shows and selling online. She couldn’t quite seem to find a consistent place to settle into. She assumed that this was because no one enjoyed looking at or appreciated the art that she created. She began to build her emotional walls and turning inward for her solutions, she only found self-doubt and negativity. This resulted in her self-inflicted artist’s block that went on to consume her for the next 5 years. She put her brushes down to explore something new and most recently, becoming a photographer in 2010, She realized that her photography tended to move towards abstract designs, landscapes and finding ways to document the lifestyles happening around her.
For a long time, Jennifer believed that art school could never teach her anything. She felt that art could not be taught and assumed that they would shape her into something that she was not. After all, art always came from within her, not evolved from the physical surface of her existence. She eventually surrendered to this notion and began studying Photography and The Fundamentals of Design at a local art school. This revolutionized the way Jennifer saw daily life and helped her to begin creating once again. She recognizes that going to school for art has helped her to become a better artist in a sense that she has overcome her artist’s block and it helped her to regain lost confidence in herself.
Today, She still produces mixed media pieces in smaller scales, but higher volumes and when traveling with her husband, she indulges in her love for photography, bringing photographic pieces of major cities back home with her as material for travel books, posters and other merchandise that will be available in late 2017.