DaveandJenn's unsettling sculptures might repulse you — or make you vaguely hungry

Calgary artist duo DaveandJenn work on one of their intricate sculptures and explain how loss and resilience come together in their work.

'A friend looked at that piece and said, "I don't know if I want to eat it or run away screaming"'

(CBC Arts)

Maybe the reason that DaveandJenn's sculptures, installations and video have a sort of attraction-repulsion to their viewers is that they're conjuring both the beauty and the tragedy of being alive. Their name is similarly curious: DaveandJenn is the combined moniker of David John Foy and Jennifer Saleik, two very separate artists who finish each other's sentences and make artwork that even they can't divide into their individual parts. Their work combines historical materials like bronze and plaster with contemporary stuffs like plastic and resin — so calling it puzzling is as literal as it is visual.

The subject matter is no less complicated: DaveandJenn look to science, history, time, place, daily life, western mythology and pop culture as their sources. Then, they translate all of it into this dizzying, creepy and visually stunning set of creatures, sometimes without heads.

Watch the video:

The sculptures of DaveandJenn

4 years ago
Duration 3:06
Artist duo DaveandJenn take you through the beauty and tragedy of their chimerical sculptures. Filmmaker: Dominique Keller

In this video, the couple open up about what was going on in their lives while they worked on the anthropomorphic creature at the centre of their studio, called "Every Bad Feeling." They've created it during a tumultuous time in their lives: Saleik's mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and Foy's father with Alzheimer's.

But lest you think the work is mournful, Saleik provides a balanced way of looking at the pair's art: "Life isn't all beauty and happiness and stuff. I don't think it's a bad thing — I think that's just what life is. Without all of the raw, painful, kind of grotesque moments, those things totally lose meaning."

Follow DaveandJenn here.

(CBC Arts)
(CBC Arts)

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Dominique Keller is a documentary director in Calgary. Her projects include several documentaries and documentary series for CBC, PBS, CityTV, The Food Network, NFB and APTN. Keller’s films have screened at over 100 festivals worldwide. When not directing, Keller likes to sit and stare at the wall: sometimes she's meditating; most of the time she's daydreaming. Follow @domkeller on Twitter and Instagram.