Jennifer Colten

(American, b. 1962; resides in St. Louis, MO)

Jennifer Colton is a conceptual landscape photographer whose many series consider the evolution of land throughout human histories, as well as nature’s underlying endurance among these changes. Her series, Significant & Insignificant Mounds (2015-ongoing), depicts ancient and contemporary earthen mounds in or around St. Louis, Missouri. Numerous historical mounds pepper the region, which are believed to have been created by Indigenous Mississippian populations between 800 CE and 1600 CE in burial or religious ceremonies. Colten photographs these monuments as well as visually similar contemporary mounds formed by slag heaps, landfills, and other forms of industrial waste. From the surface, the two types appear similar. Yet, both have evolved into existence for very different purposes, at once reflecting the societies who built them while condensing all of humanity through its imprint on the earth.

In another series represented in the Midwestern Photographers Project, Of Place and Non-Place (2010-2015), Colten points her camera down at the ground, portraying what she considers to be the residue or forensics of civilizations. The artist captures areas that are on the edges of development, appearing both wild and not wild. She states: “I am compelled by the resilience of nature as I wander this space, imagining a possible future world--one without human presence. Here, nature sustains, not as mankind would have it, but nonetheless reasserting itself around the scars, and finding new expression.”

Jennifer Colten completed her BA in English from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and her MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA (1988). Her work has been included in numerous exhibitions around the worlds and is held in the permanent collections of the Denver Art Museum, CO; Museum Hundertwasser, KunstHaus Wein, Vienna, Austria; and the Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogota, Colombia; among many others.

https://www.jennifercolten.com/

Mound [7056], 2016, from the Significant & Insignificant Mounds series (2015-ongoing)

What a city! What a population there must have been at that time on this alluvial plain.
This view is also strongly evidenced by the fact this this rich plain, which is some 75 miles
long, and 5 to 10 miles wide, is a veritable cemetery of the past, and full of evidences of
long human occupation. Relics of the stone age protrude from the banks of every creek and
ravine. In the rich fields opposite St. Louis and for miles up the Cahokia creek, we have
many times seen the market gardener literally plow through human bones. The little labor 
with which enormous crops are grown here would excite the envy of the plodding planter on 
the banks of the Nile.


-- History of Madison County 1882

Mound [7056], 2016, from the Significant & Insignificant Mounds series (2015-ongoing)

What a city! What a population there must have been at that time on this alluvial plain.

This view is also strongly evidenced by the fact this this rich plain, which is some 75 miles

long, and 5 to 10 miles wide, is a veritable cemetery of the past, and full of evidences of

long human occupation. Relics of the stone age protrude from the banks of every creek and

ravine. In the rich fields opposite St. Louis and for miles up the Cahokia creek, we have

many times seen the market gardener literally plow through human bones. The little labor

with which enormous crops are grown here would excite the envy of the plodding planter on 

the banks of the Nile.

-- History of Madison County 1882

Mound [7791], 2018, from the Significant & Insignificant Mounds series (2015-ongoing)Mound [7791], 2018, from the Significant & Insignificant Mounds series (2015-ongoing)

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