There is a language older and deeper than words, a language of dream, gesture, symbol, and memory. Far too many of us seem to have forgotten this language, but some people live their lives in tune with it—the way they listen, learn, and, in their own way, create art forms for the rest of us to “read.”

Artist Jenni Hensler and her work speak loudly in this language of gesture. After spending time in her NYC studio and catching a glimpse of this woman, one thing is crystal clear: Hensler manages the art of both life and dream, making space for these worlds to coexist, and through her work, creates gateways with which to share her stories.

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In her upcoming art show Persona Somnia, November 2015, Hensler invites each one of us to explore our own intimate personal journey. Visit her exhibition fundraiser (last day May 8) www.indiegogo.com

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For the uninitiated, who are you and what do you do?
I am a Creative director and Costume Designer/Stylist. I basically create visual stories. www.jennihensler.com

How long have you been doing this, and what did you do before?
For a little over 10 years. I started working music related jobs in the early 2000’s.  This led to another job working at a beautiful 1920’s theatre in Seattle. At that time, I was also dabbling in painting… and from that I became a makeup artist for a few years.  All of that experience ushered into styling, which elevated into Costume Design. More recently, I have started making video collages of found footage – at first this was just for fun and to project for parties and events I would DJ, but it lead to some directing as well.  I’ve always wanted to create stories visually and since music has always been a major inspiration, stepping into the role of director just felt really natural.  I want to take people to the place that the music takes me.

I have always been inspired by music – I lose myself in it if I connect to it.  When a song is amazing, when it has that magic, it really takes me somewhere.  I also love day dreaming, and creating other worlds.  This is my way of doing something I’m good at and combining those elements.

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Where did you grow up? What kind of kid were you?
I moved a lot growing up.. but for the grade school years of my life, I was in a suburb just north of Seattle. I was the quiet kid.. spent a lot of time in my room using my imagination. I had a bedroom that was decorated all in pink and I had a little Casio keyboard that I would play the twin peaks theme on in between playing with Barbies.. You could also find me often outside biking with the boys.. As a teen, I lived in the city (Seattle) and became really into fashion and even more into music.

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So what are you working on right now?    
My first exhibition Persona Somnia. I have always worked with others on collaborations.. and I adore this work, it is my way of connecting with some pretty amazing people.. but this will be the first time that I have ever done something of my own.

Tell us about the process of creating this? And what’s the vision?
I am planning an art exhibition showcasing all-new sculptural costumes in a dream like setting. The title is Persona Somnia. This will be a full sensory exploration into the infinite dimensions of the self; a visceral dream-like experience.

I’m exploring six different sides of myself in a dream like setting. The idea that each of us are multi dimensional. Each archetype is being visually explored through costume and brought to life in a deeper way via the space they’re in, lighting, scent, and sound will each play a part in bringing them to life. Each archetype will be shown singularly and focused in the room to be fully understood and the complete energy felt…

I have always been inspired by dreams.. Mixing dreams with reality… I often drift into the place in between. One of my passions is to create ways to take others into this place. To open a part of the psyche and create a dream like psychedelic experience which connects everyone in the room using minimal elements. To feel as close to what a dream would feel like in the waking life.

There will be a sparse ambient soundscape for each fragment…  Each one being created by a different musical artist that I admire or have worked with on a story or project.. Artists I feel a some kind of connection to both as individuals and their music as this is a very personal thing. Zola Jesus, Chelsea Wolfe, Drew McDowell (Coil), Belong, Azar Swan, HTRK

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Each piece will play individually along with the corresponding archetype and then will converge slowly with the others in the end playing together as a beautiful textural strong sound—to give the feeling of all the pieces/archetypes becoming one. I am a Costume Designer at heart. This is my passion, but I also have a deeper side that I want to share. This will be my first chance to do this.

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In Jungian psychology, archetypes are highly developed elements of the collective unconscious. Being unconscious, the existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by examining behavior, images, art, myths, religions, or dreams. Carl Jung understood archetypes as universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct. They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behavior on interaction with the outside world. They are autonomous and hidden forms which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression by individuals and their cultures. archetypal figures: great mother, child, devil, god, wise old woman, the trickster.

You work with a lot of amazing photographers/videographers and musicians presently. Any favorites?
I have asked my favorite musicians to be a part of my exhibition. As for photographers/videographers I love working with: Jeff Elstone, Sebastian Mlynarski, Jacqueline Castel, Martina Scorcucchi

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Can you tell us about something strange or crazy that’s happened on set or during your career?
I worked on a music video for HTRK (who just happen to be a part of my show).. Many synchronistic things happened around that shoot. The theme for the video was following people in moments of their daily lives.. I was one of the people who was followed… We shot one of the scenes in my loft that I lived in for 6 years in Brooklyn (until recently), and some other things.. we also shot another scene in someone elses apt (I wasn’t able to be there for this part).. Months later well after the video came out, I was showing a friend the video and realized that I was now living in the apt that one of the other people in the video was in.. the song is called Chinatown style.

What are you listening to right now?
Here are some words that describe what I am listening to right now: dreams, psychedelic, neon, palm trees, space, time, exotic, tribal drums, purple, blue, green, haze, incense, opium, nostalgia, Dub step, dream noise, decadent classical, strange voice recordings…

Any specific bands or artists we need to check out at the moment?
Demdike stare, Andy Stott, Hype Williams, Selda Bagcan, Night Muzik. Follow this link for more..

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Find more info about Jenni Hensler and Persona Somnia HERE and the chance to now buy custom made pieces.

JENNI HENSLER – Persona Somnia – All images courtesy of Anna Ahren and Jenni Hensler

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