Art Throb: Jenny Lee Maas

Jenny Lee Maas' "Mending" - Part II of a tryptic sculpture titled "Awakening"

Warhol, Chagall, Picasso, and Jenny Lee Maas? The name was foreign, but not unwelcomed at an NYC Sunday’s Auction House last February. Local Philly artist, Jenny Lee Maas, sold 2 out of 3 10-inch paintings from her Mindscape series next to the world’s most renowned artists. “It’s funny because I’ve had those for years and there were a few times where I almost gave them away,” says Maas, but she held on to the works, despite the pleas of friends and lowballing collectors, and followed her gut.

Intuition has been a guiding principle and source of inspiration for Maas’s artwork. Her current project, Psyche’s Lullaby, dissects this concept through the psyche of a woman. According to Maas, the film series “is a symbolic interpretation of one woman's reality, ” and, “has to do with loss, trauma, fear, dreams, guidance, intuition and overcoming.” Maas’s ongoing project began in 2010, and is expected to be composed of 20 short films. The latest episode, Procession at Dawn, premiered last year, and has audiences waiting for more.

Procession at Dawn is conceptual and abstract, yet there is a sense of familiarity that translates through the film’s loose narrative. The viewer knows that this is a dream and a journey that they are observing, but why and to where is uncertain. The chapter’s characters skulk through a forest carrying an open casket. A brief glimpse into the casket reveals a dark molding of a face. The funeral march comes to a halt when the masked mistresses carrying the casket abandon it, and in stop motion, the earth consumes the casket. Procession at Dawn closes with many questions left to be answered by the 19 interrelated films, but the questions do not distract from the beauty of the piece. The chapter was featured in the U.K’s Scarlet Imprint Publishing Co. film festival, and has sparked the attention of art magazines, like The Visual Artbeat Magazine.

Capturing a dream on camera is difficult, especially when one doesn’t have the fiscal backing of a production company or studio, to pay for special effects, however

Maas makes due with persistence and innovation. Rather than using SGI, Maas says, “I thought I would use these old-school special effect techniques that are a little more poetic,” she laughs and recalls a recent moment while filming, where she used smoke bombs in the place of fog machine. Overlapping frames and stop motion animation are techniques, which often began as practical solutions, that eventually blossomed into the otherworldly aesthetic that Maas intended.

Psyche’s Lullaby is an undoubtedly ambitious project, but Maas is a veteran artist who is talented in a range of mediums. From film and photography to costume work and sculpture, Maas is serious about her work. As funding builds, the puzzle for Psyche’s Lullaby progresses and the projects bigger picture becomes clearer and clearer.

Tonight you can see and support Jenny Lee Maas, at Philly’s Raw Artist, where she will be showcasing several sculptures from her Awakening Series. For updates on Psyche’s Lullaby and other projects check out the artist’s Facebook page