At its core, Jen Villa’s medium is Cape Cod. Villa’s photography and collages are rife with iconic Cape images: ocean, dunes, and skylines, capturing a sentiment that both Villa and her clients embrace.
Villa, “a beach baby from day one,” as she describes herself, grew up summering in West Hyannisport. After graduating from Trinity College in Hartford, she traveled to California and graduated from the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. And then she experienced the wham of the heart that deep love inflicts: Villa knew she had to return to the Cape. “There’s always a lingering feeling of wanting to be back,” she says. She quickly discovered that her deep affection for this special place rang true with a wider audience.
The discovery led Villa, a Hyannisport resident, to open The Little Beach Gallery in Hyannis, where she shows the works of 40 artists, including her own. The art here reflects a common inspiration: the ocean. The concept of community is obvious, too. Villa thrives on bringing artists together, holding fundraisers, and practicing local environmentalism, including heading up the local chapter of Green Drinks
(www.greendrinks.org). It all fits seamlessly with Villa’s art. As she says, “My artwork is solely based on the beauty of this place. The environmental part goes hand in hand with it. It’s kind of a nice collaboration.”
The environment that Villa works to protect is on display in her collages, which she calls J’coupage. The photography and collages—artful arrangements of photos with short narratives and graphics—embody the Cape’s indefinable appeal. Villa’s clients often report back to her, no doubt to renew their connection in a mutual love. “People say ‘I look at the art every day; it takes me back to the Cape,’” Villa says.
In her collage The Waves of the Sea Help Me Get Back to Me, the words of writer Jill Davis are dropped over Villa’s sepia-toned image of a beach line and dunes, beach grass waving in the wind. “The photo collages incorporate inspirational words—words that remind you to stay present,” she says. The mood is subtle, peaceful. Villa says, “It’s the ocean, the magic, the serenity of finding yourself at the edge of the earth.”