From utopia to dystopia, with reality based images thrown in the mix, Jean Tansey brings a journalistic approach to her artmaking. As a selected participant in regional shows with titles such as: Article 13, Artists Stand Up, It’s All Politics, Change Agents: Personal Art as Political Tactic, The Stories We Tell, Peace and Justice, In the News, Tansey applies her visual language to align with her critical lens. The focus is on complex narratives which are presented in a poetic manner. Bringing to light; social injustice, environmental disregard, and the intersection of race, class and gender, Tansey uses the beauty of color, active brush stroke and strong drawing to bring the viewer in for a closer look. The viewer perceives that there is more than meets the eye in Tansey’s art and upon investigation back stories emerge. Her watercolors have a distinctive style which relies heavily on the fluidity of the medium in which Tansey makes shadowy silhouettes of figures, which despite relatively little detail, fully describe the person’s emotion and attitude
Aiming to increase awareness of individual experience within a context of larger global concerns, the paintings, drawings and prints become conversation starters leading to a deeper understanding of the implications of human choices and dynamics on the macro and micro scale. She combines her professional training, as a licensed clinical master social worker, with an additional emphasis in sociology in her dual masters, and her bachelors in fine art from the School of Visual Arts all to inform her stand point as an artist. Her work in human services and fine art are both women and children centric, but not exclusive. As a social worker, Tansey listens to individuals as they share their lived experience of traumatic situations, personal struggles, anxiety and hope for their future.
Tansey has been included in the 2018 “Article 13” show at Collar Works, an innovative non-profit art space in Troy, NY. As the title suggests, each artwork, poetry and film reflects a moving testimony regarding immigration and the freedom to cross borders, as outlined in Article 13 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights adapted in 1948, the show honors the 50th anniversary of this important document. As described by Indiana Nash of the Daily Gazette out of Schenectady, NY “Two haunting paintings by Jean Tansey, “Refugees Walking” and “Hiding from Soldiers,” are at the forefront of the exhibition, reflecting the terrifying experience of fleeing a country. Within the works, Tansey references South Sudan, though the sense of fear is no doubt shared by those fleeing other countries as well.”
In particular, her Snapshot series utilizes images culled from media outlets. These true stories, which are frequently buried down screen from mainstream exposure, actually tell the majority story. Tansey, acknowledging that many admirers of the arts don’t have the space of funds for large artworks, has created a line of cards with reproductions of her art on the front and short explanations of the origin and issues which prompted the making of the art on the back. These blank artist’s cards are an additional method for spreading the word on many important topics which Tansey’s work covers. In conclusion, most of the people of the world live in conditions which are uncomfortable, dangerous and with tenuous holds on any form of security. Building capacity for compassion in our society with dialogue is bottom line for what motivates Tansey.