DURHAM – A new online exhibit of sketchbooks, Toxic Youth, by New York Times editor and University of New Hampshire alumnus, Dana Jennings ’80 will be on view on the Museum of Art’s website, through April 2, 2021.
Toxic Youth features volumes 2, 3, and 4 of Jennings’s sketchbooks that recall his experiences and memories of his youth, working with his father at Kingston Steel Drum factory. Jennings scoured industrial 55-gallon steel drums used to hold paint and motor oil, pesticides, and other chemicals. The factory, shut down by the EPA in the early 1980s, became a Superfund hazardous waste site that is still monitored today.
Jennings has nearly been killed by ulcerative colitis, aggressive prostate cancer, and copes with a second autoimmune disease, which causes weeping wounds to erupt on his lower abdomen from the inside out. Jennings’ father struggles with metastatic colon cancer and emphysema. Many of the chemicals Jennings came in contact with are linked with such diseases.
Jennings’s sketchbooks grew out of his impatience for words, “My sketchbooks are a place where I can bushwhack through my memory” Jennings says, “Visions of Kingston Steel Drum are seared into my memory. The place was living darkness, and where I learned the many textures of death. In these sketchbooks, I've tried to flense to the essential, tried to draw with a dirty expressionism, a punk fury, that brings the factory and its men back to life.”
Dana Jennings, born and raised in Kingston, N.H., graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1980 and started his newspaper career as a reporter for The Exeter News-Letter and The Union Leader. He spent eight years at The Wall Street Journal as an editor and writer and moved to The New York Times in 1993 where he currently is a senior staff editor. His roles at the Times have included ski editor, features writer, and most recently cancer blogger. Jennings published three novels, a children's book, and two works of nonfiction.
Toxic Youth is a virtual exhibition with programming available while the Museum is closed and while University students are on winter break. Kristina Durocher, Director, Museum of Art says: “One of the opportunities virtual exhibitions afford small museums and galleries is the ability to think in different scales. With virtual exhibitions, we can exceed the physical space of the galleries, or design an intensely intimate show highlighting a few objects, such as sketchbooks. The adage is think big, but you can also be hyper-focused thinking small with exciting results.”
Additional virtual programming will include, Sketchbook Clinic, based on Toxic Youth, Dana Jennings’ ’80, an exhibit of expressive and raw sketchbook drawings done in ink, participants will harness the power of black and white to explore memory, dreams, historical or biographical events, and the formal elements of art. Weekly sessions include an introduction to the artists’ work from the Museum’s collection, thematic prompts, ample time to share your work with others, and an occasional guest artist. These workshops are open to adults who wish to expand their artistic practice by putting ideas to paper through drawing. The eight-week virtual program is every Monday, noon-12-45 p.m., January 4- February 22, 2021, cost $40, free to UNH students, Register here.
Virtual Discussion: Join us for an online discussion with Dana Jennings ’80, New York Times editor and author, and Sue Hertz, Associate Professor of English. Learn about Dana’s virtual sketchbook project, Toxic Youth, his interest in graphic novels, and their experiences as published authors and newspaper writers. This zoom conversation will take place Wednesday, February 24, 6 p.m. - 7 p.m., moderated by Kristina Durocher, Director, Museum of Art. Reservations required
Toxic Youth and accompanying programs are supported by Friends of the Museum of Art. Follow the Museum of Art on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Image credit: Dana Jennings, Toxic Youth, volume 3, page 41, ink on paper
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