Invasive Species: Jenny Yurshansky Plants Her Stake / KCET Artbound Los Angeles

herbarium detail

Somewhere on Interstate 210, speeding through the California landscape, I looked off into the distance and realized that this view was made for travelers. It was a sunny day, and artist Jenny Yurshansky and I were on our way to her show “Blacklisted: A Planted Allegory” atPitzer College. The drive took nearly an hour, and en route I was reminded that good things take time to arrive, and patience actually is a virtue. This type of waiting on account of distance is a recurring element in Jenny Yurshansky’s family history and art practice. She splits time between Sweden, where she lives in an old castle that she purchased with her husband, and her hometown of Los Angeles, where her art community and family reside. These constantly shifting borders began before Yurshansky was born.

Yurshansky’s parents are Russian Jewish refugees, arriving in Los Angeles in 1979. America wasn’t their original destination. They were bound for Israel from Russia, and at the last minute a relative of Yurshansky’s father advised they change directions and go to America instead. They took his suggestion, quickly locating an 80-year-old cousin who lived in Los Angeles; Jenny was born in Rome while en route to America.

It could be said that Yurshansky has been developing since birth that keen sense of who belonged where and why, and who is seen as othered. This same sensibility crops up in her work as well, most recently in the form of plant species.

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