Portland artists’ obsession with forest animals might sound like a cliché, but Oregon native Malia Jensen brings something new to the wildlife menagerie. She grew up in the wooded foothills of the hipster paradise, and her fascination with animals stems from a place that’s sincere and hardly trendy: she’s interested in unpacking their souls.
From her Brooklyn studio in Dumbo, she invents deer, opossums, birds, snakes, and goats with a sense of humor full of puns, irony, and reality’s darkest truths. There’s Sock Fight, where two snakes play tug of war with a tube sock, and Seal + Penguin 4 Ever, where an over-sized opal-colored seal appears to smother a penguin in a presumably sexual encounter. Her Pigeon Stool stands as a towering pillar of bird feces, while Ladybugs consists of two spotless insects making love. All of these are on view in Stuff and Things at the Cristin Tierney Gallery in Chelsea.