Jennifer Wen Ma
Charleston, SC | Fall 2024

FSA welcomes artist Jennifer Wen Ma to Charleston for a residency this fall. Ma is a multi-disciplinary visual artist, propelled by conceptual interests to pursue different media and forms that offer the most evocative expressions of the concept, manifested as immersive, experiential installations, paintings, videos, public art, performances, or social practice works. The foundation of these large-scale and multi-faceted projects is a grounding practice of quietly, repetitively, and contemplatively making calligraphic drawings. These works are rarely seen by the public and seldom exhibited, nourishing Ma’s inner self, fueling the engine that drives the rest of her practice.

Ma plans to base her FSA fall residency work in Charleston work on this drawing and writing exercise. She will work daily on a 100-meter-long paper scroll, either alone or inviting visitors, friends, artists, and conversation partners into the studio to participate in some capacity. They could directly interact with the paper or contribute through her hand and brush. The starting point of the exploration will be how one obtains spiritual subsistence with consistency, longevity, and sustainability.


She states: “At the onset of the 2020 pandemic, I initiated a weekly book club to read ancient Chinese classics in their original textual form.

She states: “At the onset of the 2020 pandemic, I initiated a weekly book club to read ancient Chinese classics in their original textual form. We have worked through Liji (Book of Rites), Lunyu (The Analects of Confucius), Laozi (The Book of the Way), and we are now reading Shijing (Book of Odes). These classics have profoundly affected my phenomenological experience of living in a physical body while contending with spiritual matters in a chaotic world. The residency will provide much-needed space and time to better understand these inner seismic shifts. I look forward to connecting with the Charleston community, regardless of religious, cultural, or secular affiliations, to share strategies for finding balance and meaning living in uncertain times.”


Artist Bio

Jennifer Wen Ma is a visual artist whose interdisciplinary practice bridges varied media of installation, painting, video, public art, performance, opera, and social practice, bringing together unlikely elements in a single work, creating sensitive, poetic and poignant works.

Projects with international institutions include New Britain Museum of American Art, CT; Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain; National Art Museum of China, Ullens Center For Contemporary Art, Beijing; Vancouver Art Gallery; The Phillips Collection, Washington DC; Qatar Museums, Doha; Cass Sculpture Foundation, UK; Sydney Opera House, Australia. 

In 2019, Ma received Anonymous Was a Woman Award and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She conceived, visually designed, and directed the installation-opera Paradise Interrupted, which performed around the world, including at Spoleto Festival USA and Lincoln Center Festival. In 2008, Ma was a core creative team member for the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony and received an Emmy for its US broadcast. 

Ma teaches in the MFA program at the School of Visual Arts, New York, and has guest lectured at many institutions worldwide. She works and lives between New York and Beijing. 


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