Jena Ataras is a Portland-based artist working predominantly with mixed media and digital collage. She desires to shift her viewers’ perspectives through the exploration of deconstructed materials and forms, to expose societal underbellies. Inspired by a variety of tactile elements – from transformed hues to dimensional phenomena – Ataras creates unexpected visual conversations with her art. She pulls apart a range of genres and textures to reveal the hidden possibilities within each material. Her constant experimentation of form and usage of mixed media allows her to reveal otherwise obscured concepts, dissolving boundaries to create new perspectives. Ataras’ work is a powerful example of art as an activist, questioning norms and advocating for a world beyond binaries.
In a country (USA) that often shies away from discomfort, and instead force feeds the population with reality shows and junk food, I use my work to confront the difficult truths of the human experience, including suffering. Through my art, I invite viewers to explore the complex emotions that come with suffering, and to find compassion and empathy for those who are struggling.
My work often features raw and personal imagery, which can be difficult to view. However, this is precisely the point. I believe that it is important to face our discomfort head-on, in order to better understand the world around us and ourselves.
What I create and develop is not meant to shock or sensationalize suffering. Rather, it is meant to open up a dialogue about these important issues, and to create a space for healing and connection.
In one of my most recent series, “Beautiful Freak” my work interweaves negative judgements about Queer and Brown bodies into something strange but beautiful. You are welcomed to come and stare, and marvel at what “difference” can offer! My work is a powerful reminder that we are not alone in our suffering. It is also a reminder that even in the midst of darkness, there is hope, and an opportunity for growth and to be valued!