“I’m always trying something new,” says Cape Cod artist Jenny Fragosa. “I don’t just do one thing. I never want things to look the same.” Fragosa applies this same experimentation to her life path—an unconventional one that started in a creative household. Her father is a self-taught, renowned airbrush and pinstriper, making his living and his art by painting on motorcycles, cars, and boats among other everyday canvases. “Growing up, it was whatever’s around, use it as art. Make something of it and use your imagination. Here’s a stick—make a toy,” she remembers.
Entirely self-taught, Fragosa skipped college. Unlike a lot of American kids who haven’t seen much of the world, Fragosa spent the time after high school traveling all over the world—a few months in Costa Rica, a few in Nicaragua, then on to Ireland, Scotland, France, and Italy. Her travels led her to Cape Cod, where she has lived with her husband, since 2000.
Always the observer, Fragosa loves watching people and life unfold. Like a sponge, she absorbs and internalizes her experiences; she says she puts them in a “bucket in her head,” which she empties into her work. “For two to three weeks, I don’t process things, emotions, and eventually the bucket is full, and I have to process,” she explains. “I do use those feelings in my work. They all come out on the paper.”
Fragosa’s sense of mark making, composition, and color are impressive given her lack of formal artistic training. Her visual language is distinctly her own, yet she has paid attention to the art world around her. Her pieces can comfortably converse with the likes of Betty Carroll Fuller or Vicky Tomayko, the latter of whom Fragosa describes as one of her heroes. Fragosa is first and foremost an installation artist. “I always picture the work up in space first,” she says.
The transforming medium of printmaking is one of her favorites. Working big and fast, her process is an intuitive one. She works in layers—of material and of visual language. “I just start,” she explains. “A blank canvas in front of your face is daunting, so I just like marking it up. It’s taming, fixing, layering, covering.” There is a lot of editing. Movement floats from one mark to the next in a swarming circle. Scrawling illustrations appear floating on muted, colored grounds. Never over-thought, her prints have the brilliance of childhood imaginings. It’s a humble proposition—just a play of mark, color, gesture, and texture on a page. Fragosa demonstrates a confident lack of self-awareness in the work, perhaps an advantage of never experiencing the doubt-inspiring critiques often found in formal art school. She is fearless in her image making. “I use anything I can get my hands on,” she says.
Fragosa is a partner in Cutrona Studios, a studio/gallery space in Mashpee Commons that she shares with local photographer Dan Cutrona. The gallery is a new challenge for an artist restlessly pushing herself to achieve more.