Jennifer Grote Named Distinguished Alumni 2021

The Art Academy of Cincinnati Alumni Association established this award as our highest honor. The Alum who receive this honor have distinguished themselves by the contributions they have made in their particular field or profession, in service to the Art Academy and to the betterment of humanity.
On behalf of the Art Academy Alumni Council, it is my great privilege to recognize Jennifer Grote, Class of 2003, as this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award. 
Over the years, Jenny has exemplified the power of creative spirit, working as a successful artist, gallery director and advocate for the Art Academy’s students and alumni. Always striving to strengthen our AAC community, Jenny has organized and curated many group shows, including Raw Walls and the biennial Minumental Show. Through thick and thin, Jenny’s support of our beloved Art Academy has remained steady and focused. She is someone who observes a situation and knows exactly what needs to be done at just the right time. As Past Alumni Council President Mike Beeghly says, “Jenny Grote became my trusted sounding board for any big decisions the Alumni Council was making.  Being a practicing artist and gallery director, she always considered the viewpoint of the artists and designers first and foremost.” 
Jenny’s positive energy and creative vision has made alumni initiatives successful, inclusive and rewarding. Embracing her role as an artist and agent for positive change, Jenny has always made time and space to challenge her artistic impulses and share her work in meaningful, carefully crafted shows. In fact, Jenny’s latest body of work was on display at the Indian Hill Gallery this past fall, and all of us on the Alumni Council agree that it is some of her strongest work yet. As one art critic remarked, Jenny’s work, “offers art that takes us beyond the confines of our present distress into a larger realm of being.” 
We are so fortunate to include Jennifer Grote as one of ours. She is a true champion of the Art Academy, we are a better institution because of her quiet, inspiring leadership over the years. Congratulations
– Christine Carli,  AAC Alumni Association President

About Jennifer Grote

After graduating from The Art Academy of Cincinnati in 2003 with a BFA, emphasis in painting, I remained active in the arts community through exhibiting locally in galleries such as the Phyllis J. Weston / Annie Bolling Gallery, Cincinnati Art Galleries, AEC Gallery, Semantics and the Harvest Gallery among a few. I was Gallery Director and Curator of the 537 Gallery (2001-2009) which included exhibition planning, installation, and public relations. I continue to work as an independent curator.

As a member of the Alumni Council (2003-2019) and President of the Alumni Association of The Art Academy of Cincinnati (2007-2010), I was active in fund raising for student scholarships. Organizing biannual Beaux Balls, alumni exhibitions, and activities which enhance the student experience and scholarship fundraising are a driving force in my volunteer work.

Being a wife, mother, grandmother, and registered nurse, all inform my work in the various ways. The environments of all these roles merge to create my style of investigation in painting and sculpture.

Artist Statement

The familiar can be something nonobjective extracted from the very objective and real. Our learning process begins in infancy through recognition of color, then shapes, which progresses to three-dimensional form and then we begin to compare what we have learned to what is new. This comparative process becomes innate, automatic and unconscious. The nonobjective nature of my work seeks to tap into this innocent learning process. The brain, a powerhouse of storage, transforms all life’s experiences into cellular memories of color, form, line and texture. These are the basic elements of artwork. I deconstruct experiences and reconfigure a memory using these pure elements to create work that speaks to the brain in abstract form.

My chosen materials vary. The materials have a language of themselves, each dictating the progression of my creativity. I combine them to create a comparison of abstract geometric forms and materials that are a juxtaposition of a personal language of color, form, line, and texture. Porcelain, wood, metal, found objects, and painted canvases all link in my language of common form to create a formal challenge to engage the mind, pose possibilities, seek conclusions and lead the viewer to return again to explore, rethink, speculate and create new meaning.

My work seeks to create a dialogue of personal histories through compositions that seem like perception tests compelling the viewer to give the work a second study which, in turn yields more discovery and richness. The meaning I intend may be in contrast to the viewer’s response also tempered by their memories and subconscious.

Igor Stravinsky, a 20th century Russian composer, wrote in 1940 about his creative process. His writings speak of the search for personal truth and inspiration through a manifesto of editing: “My Freedom consists in my moving about within the narrow frame that I have assigned myself for each one of my undertakings. I shall go even further: my freedom will be much greater and more meaningful, the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself from the chains that shackle the spirit.”

Thoughts About Jennifer

“As a student Jenny was authentic, engaged and always went above and beyond expectations. She challenged the idea of what a painting could be.

Post-graduation she continues to thrive in the contemporary arts community by not only exhibiting her own work but supporting other artists by curating and providing opportunities in the arts,”

-Paige Williams, AAC Academic Dean.

“Jennifer Grote was an exceptional student—curious, diligent, hard-working and attentive in both her studio and academic work. She had high standards for herself, which she continues to carry in her studio practice.

Jenny has a strong personal vision that is evident in all the varied media that explores. The maturity and professionalism in her work reflect well on the Academy.

More than these accomplishments, the Distinguished Alumni Award is a recognition of the many years in which Jenny’s service on the Alumni Council benefitted current and past students of the Academy. She worked tirelessly, taking on ambitious and demanding projects. This award is thanks to an exemplary person.”

-Gary Gaffney

“When I came to the Art Academy Alumni Council in 2015, Jennifer was one of the first to accept my quirks and shortcomings. I had and still have very strong opinions about things Art Academy related but the true sign of leadership is exactly what Jennifer possesses in spades. She listens and lets you express your feelings with care and sensitivity. The ability to think outside the box and create environments such as “Raw Walls” is a rare quality and to invite others to share her unbridled enthusiasm and drive only serves to further our communities creative endeavors. Congratulations Jennifer on the Distinguished Alumni Award. It is well deserved.”

-Patrick Kunnen, AAC Alumni Council

“So happy to hear that Jenny will receive a long over-do thank you for all she has done over the years to promote the AAC (did not see attachments of her work) and help with the Alumni Council. What I remember most about Jenny, was her eagerness to explore new possibilities, test her assumptions, and strive for excellence. I can’t remember a conversation I didn’t thoroughly enjoy or a critique where she didn’t present something new. She always seemed fully invested.”

-Kim Krause