by Jeremy Binning
Jane Kent, born in Manhattan, is an artist whose works have been included in collections such as the Brooklyn Museum and The National Gallery of American Art in Washington, D.C among others.
Besides public displays of her work in such prominent galleries, she has also enjoyed quite a few awards and fellowships including the Barbara and Thomas Putnam Fellowship at MacDowell (formerly MacDowell Colony) and the Yaddo Artists’ Fellowship. Kent has been in the art world from a very young age. As a child she played the classical flute and took art her senior year of high school, before applying to only one college. She attended the Philadelphia College of Art, majoring in printmaking.
After graduating in 1974, Kent moved to London, where she lived for two years. In London, Kent worked under another artist where she learned more about printing editions. With this knowledge and experience under her belt, she returned to America. She settled in Princeton, NJ where she got a job in the art department Princeton University working in a shop before going on to teach at the university for two years.
Kent’s method and media usually involve starting with a mezzotint ground base before layering on gouache to compose bright, and often contrasting, abstract compositions. Mezzotint is not Kent’s only medium. She employs other methods and materials in her creative process. Some of the works in her public portfolio employ silkscreen, monoprint, offset print, and linoleum.
Kent’s affinity for the abstract runs quite deep: one artist in particular whose work she admired is Michael Hurson for the “mix between abstraction and figuration.”
As an abstract artist herself, Kent’s work is not particularly direct in dealing with its subject matter but it does not present itself in a daunting manner—her prints are not cluttered a great deal so that one is obscured and her use of vibrant, contrasting colors present a clear view of all in the image. Diane Fine, chair of the art department at SUNY Plattsburgh, said what she “admire[s] and appreciate[s]” about Jane Kent’s work is “the strength of her work” found in “its powerful simplicity.” Fine also noted Kent’s love of poetry and the intermingling of both in her work. Two notable, and easily accessible online, examples of this are her collaborations with author Richard Ford: Skating (2011) and Privacy (1999). Both of these works involve the juxtaposition of Kent’s abstract visual language as well as poetry written by Ford. Not only is the interplay of the poems and the images interesting in itself but it is certainly also commendable to Kent that she maintains interest, affinity, and understanding in other genres of the art world. She has an upcoming project, Unpublished Poems by George Caroline coming soon. Her prints can be found on her website at https://janekent.net.