toothy furniture


We love hearing from Jackson area artists who are showing outside the valley. Like Jenny Dowd. Jenny just installed her solo show Conversations & Confrontations at The Morris Gallery of Contemporary Art on the campus of Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri. The exhibit runs through January 8 – March 1, 2013

I asked Jenny to tell Culture Front readers about the show. Here she is in her own words:

The tooth-covered furniture started in 2010 with the wingback chair and ottoman, I had been using carved porcelain teeth in my work before this, but they were much more subtle. I see the teeth as symbols of information and particles left behind, this is physical (DNA in hair), but also more of a feeling similar to “if walls could talk.” Well, what if furniture could talk? I started wondering about furniture after people have left a room, the furniture could be gathering ideas and experiences from all the people it had come in contact with.

The floor lamp was added in 2011, and I started thinking how much I wanted an entire room full of this furniture.


“I see the teeth as symbols of information and particles left behind.”- Jenny Dowd

I was held back because I didn’t know where I would store the pieces or if they would be shown and also because I thought I was crazy.

I ended up with a great reason to make this work when the gallery at Missouri Valley College invited me to have a solo exhibition and specifically requested toothy furniture. I visited the space and decided to turn it into an apartment, with at least a suggestion of rooms. So, this space is a studio apartment, with a chair and TV, study area with table, chair and wall lamp, bedroom with bed, bedside table and lamp, plus a start of a kitchen with table and chair.

Toothy furniture by Jenny Dowd.

Toothy furniture by Jenny Dowd.

"When I Grow Up" by Jenny Dowd

“When I Grow Up” by Jenny Dowd

I’ve also been thinking about drawings to accompany the furniture, that they could be more detailed than the static furniture. I wanted to see the furniture in human situations, as if they are human or as if they are mirroring the people they live with. As much as I loved making the sculpture, the drawings were even more fun than I’d expected. I started seeing furniture in all kinds of roles; a chemistry class experiment that caught on fire (everyone is ok, the lamp got a new shade, the chair got some paint, and they are not lab partners anymore.) The peeping neighbor, looking over the fence and checking out the next door goods. I imagined a little bed dreaming about what it wanted to be when it grows up (first bed on the moon!) The classic family portrait, the parents wondering how they will live up to the grandeur of the grandparents. Two little wooden chairs watching a horror movie late at night, what could be more scary than an axe?


The installation was exciting, I had not yet set these pieces up together; they had just been in parts all over my house. I had a mix of worry about if they would work, but mostly I could not wait to see it all together!


“I wanted to see the furniture in human situations.” – Jenny Dowd


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