Meet Jennifer Woodall: Art student at College of the Arts at Kennesaw State University
By Keaton Lamle
Whereas many artists jump straight from high school into college art programs, Jennifer Woodall’s journey of expression has been more indirect. The senior photographer spent years earning a degree and working as a medical assistant, what she calls “trying out a real career,” before making the decision to return to the university setting to study fine arts. Upon receiving a HOPE scholarship, Woodall entered Kennesaw State’s College of the Arts, but initially had trouble finding an area of concentration. She eventually settled on photography as a result of her experiences working in the medium during high school, where she had access to a darkroom.
Woodall believes that her choice of Kennesaw State has benefitted her as an artist, both on a physical skill level, and conceptually. She said, “Here at KSU, the teachers not only want you to do well, they want you to do well for yourself. It’s not ‘make art that I’m going to like.’ It’s ‘make art that you are going to like.’ I realized, with the help of my professors, that you don’t make art for other people. I may have been able to come to that place on my own, but the exposure I had to my professors and my peers really helped me develop.”
This development has allowed Woodall the freedom to incorporate her worldview into her art, which she describes as different from typical decorative photography. Instead, Woodall’s work is more philosophical, stemming from her surroundings and the people she deals with. “My focus is on how humans react to living. I’m endlessly amazed at the way people react to these weird dystopian cultures we set up for ourselves and live in, oblivious to the things that go on around us. My world just happens to be middle-class American society, which I think is the weirdest.” Despite its comparatively jarring, analytical nature, Woodall’s work has sold at galleries in Atlanta and has appeared at several shows.
However, Woodall doesn’t define success in terms of sales or even outside appreciation of her work. “I wouldn’t measure success in terms of monetary gain, but define it more as the satisfaction you receive from making the art. If you can make art and look at it and say, ‘I’m satisfied with this,’ that’s success.”
The faculty working with Woodall would certainly seem satisfied with her art. Professor of Photography Matt Haffner says, “Jenny has really begun to develop her own unique style as an artist and has flourished recently in the exploration of her creative voice… the faculty enjoy working with [her] immensely.”
Ultimately, Woodall feels that she has no choice but to create, but instead does so out of a “fundamental human need for expression and catharsis that arises out of analysis of the human condition.” It seems safe to say that as long as Jennifer Woodall finds herself living with and around other people, she will be analyzing and creating.