Jennifer Dinovitz, November Artist
|by Kim Epp Frenette, November 2013|
When you are a sophomore in high school and your mentally ill mother brings home “a raging schizophrenic” who threatens you bodily harm, it is probably the best of bad choices to move out on your own. Add bouts of complete homelessness and living in trailers, and it is pretty impressive that the dirt poor girl who experienced it graduated from college with honors, and eventually earned a Masters degree in Art Education.
Jennifer Dinovitz has come a long way. Happily married, she just moved into her “dream house,” and she loves her lengthy career as a full-time art teacher in the West Mifflin School District.
“I am a survivor. And I love reaching out to the students that people have given up on.” She knows it has an impact. “That was me. But my art teacher always believed in me.”
Now, in addition to teaching, she can’t stop creating. She has had some commercial success but claims money is not her motivation. “I love making art and can’t stop, so I have to get rid of it!
Dinovitz’ first artistic love was sculpture, but when she saw that plaster, large molds, and sharp metal materials, didn’t mix too well with the presence of her small children, she moved to other forms. Her current passion is working in a mosaic style collages from cut paper. “Mosaics still have that feeling of structure and construction, of a grid. I wonder sometimes if the appeal to me is getting a sense of order in my life…”
The themes in Jennifer’s work range from “dark and twisted – which people seem to love” to “just happy” but they are all uniquely Jennifer. All her work has a sophisticated sense of humor, like a frog holding a skull in “The Winner” – a nod to a possible world where the natural world supersedes humans. Pieces like “Sowing Love” are pretty and happy, but some might qualify that as a humorous, slightly creepy happy with its children’s faces growing out of daisies.
Other works show the “frustrations and contradictions” within modern life and within Dinovitz’ own. “As a teacher, in some ways I am ‘the man’ but I am also fighting the man…” Her work “The Cleansing” is a prime example. “It is about our need to rewrite American History based on the first people who lived here (not Christopher Columbus)…I’ve always felt the mistreatment of Native Americans in this country is an abomination. The public schools skirt over this topic…”
Dinovitz works with a gorgeous and varied color palette and her drawing is clean. The range of themes and emotions in Dinovitz’ work is a natural result of the powerful experiences in her life. “I never forgot where I came from,” she says. “But I know now I am living the good life.”