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Art + Love: Jennifer Sova + Tiana Jimenez-Srisook

As part of our Art + Love series, Jennifer Sova and Tiana Jimenez-Srisook reflect on the ways in which they share space, share ideas, and hold deep admiration for one another’s work.

On where it all started:

Jennifer Sova: We met in a class at Columbia College in 2016. The class was called Women in Art, Music, and Literature which we think is hilarious being that we are women in art and music. It seems like a modern-day queer romantic comedy. We became fast friends and fell in love quickly, too. The things that first bonded us; music, laughter, books, soaking up the small things, and general curiosity are still the things that we stay up too late talking about.

Tiana Jimenez-Srisook: Jenn and I met in college–– a fact that we both find quite silly given the cliché. We were in the same women’s studies course and coincidentally sat next to each other only to spark up a seamless bout of quick witty banter and conversations about big ideas, art, culture, politics, literature, food, music, dreams, fears, goals, aspirations and most importantly a shared love of The X-Files Dana Scully (swoon). To be frank and perhaps to add further to the cliché, the moment we met I instantly felt that I had found a kindred spirit––I felt seen. We became close friends quickly and after a brief stint of some good ol’ unrequited love on my part, I told her how I felt. Needless to say, the rest is history…

On one another’s process and practice:

J: Tiana’s creative practice is one of patience and intuition. She puts care and attention into her work in really beautiful ways. A big part of her practice is simply listening to music in a way in which I have never seen anyone so absorbed–she listens with her whole body. This listening then turns into research which then adds to her incredible bank of knowledge of music. She finds connections in things that are too often missed by millennial deaf ears. She is very modest in her artistry and truly loves connecting to others which she does best while talking about music. She has a degree in Audio Engineering too which is so badass! That field is beyond male dominated and needs brilliant women like her to reinvent the landscape to make it more inclusive. She is so deeply embedded in music and vice versa – Her process relies on this listening and research that she then turns into her own sound and writing. Seeing her play live is one of my favorite parts of her work, she becomes this powerhouse full of energy when she performs.

T:  I lovingly call Jenn my Google Doc Queen. The woman’s organizational skills are beyond me: calendars, lists, post-it notes, organizational apps and notebooks of different themes (i.e. project ideas, thoughts/emotions, research to name a few.) J is extremely curious yet does not fret when she cannot find the answer; rather her curiosity triumphs the most in the act of questioning, examining, and making connections in the world around her.  Her process is concise and deliberate yet swift and dexterous, often flittering between a Google Doc of concepts and research ideas, a notebook of scribbled half-thoughts, all while simultaneously discussing ideas for a new project with a fellow colleague over the phone. Her creative brain moves a mile a minute and let me tell you that in that minute, she gets quite far. Some of my favorite things about her work is how it savors discomfort without resorting to overt explicitness or cheap shock value. Conceptually, her work is quite simple but exceptionally weighty in its pointedness. And yes, in case you were wondering, the final draft of these Q’s and A’s were indeed written in a shared Google Doc.

J: We wrote our answers in a Google Doc – haha!

Jennifer Sova. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Jennifer Sova in the studio. Photo courtesy of the artist.

On sharing space: 

J: Sharing space(s) is one of my favorite parts of our relationship. I tend to be the one that always has more stuff yet more organized and she is a bit more messy and is less particular. We have shared an at home studio for the last year or so which has been challenging but rewarding. Both of us work on multiple projects at a time but in very different ways. I often need to talk through ideas while working and take breaks to move my body but she can sit down to record or write in silence and not pop her head up for hours. I’m definitely the chatty one in our spaces. We are both water signs so creating spaces for making and our relaxing is a huge importance to both of us and sharing those spaces with others too!

T: We have shared, for the most part, all three of these types of spaces; living and studio being the most prevalent. Jenn is the nester and arranger of our home and studio––a quality that I much appreciate given that I could probably make do with only a bed, a desk, and a chair. She loves building a sense of comfort in any given space by tending to its aesthetics (decorating, re-arranging, lighting, etc.) while being mindful of the ways in which these intimate spaces impact us. When it comes to our shared studio and creative co-existence in these spaces we operate somewhat differently. I love her dearly but she’s a little distracting! I’m more of the quiet-loner-up-till-5am type while, reminiscent of our early college lecture days, she is the chatty-funny-girl-beside-you-who-will-get-you-in-trouble-with-the-teacher-by-making-you-laugh-at-inappropriate-times type but I digress.

On collaborating with one another:

J: I view our relationship as a collaboration, working together for a common goal that supports each of us individually. We have collaborated on big projects like a publication with two friends through my project, The Overlook which was exciting! Tiana mostly thinks of herself as a musician but she’s also an amazing artist and writer. I love to pull that out of her whenever I can. We collaborate in small ways everyday, she is the person I go to to share new ideas, to read/edit my work, work through problems, and ask for suggestions.

T: I truly believe that our means of collaboration occurs every single day in our shared conversations and curiosities. While our work is vastly different, we are constantly ruminating, questioning, unpacking, and picking apart the world around us. Her assertiveness in her creativity offers my often sensitive, intuition driven creativity new perspectives on ideas and modes of making. We are always happy to pick each other’s brain on any given subject and learn from each other. I believe that our collaboration manifests in a shared curiosity of each other and an earnest appreciation of our differences.

Tiana Jimenez-Srisook. Image courtesy of the artist.

Tiana Jimenez-Srisook. Image courtesy of the artist.

On how their process and practice have been influenced by one another:

J: Her slow and steady pace has definitely impacted my practice. I tend to move/work quickly and a step ahead of myself but I’m valuing slow research and actions lately which is a direct rub-off from her. My visual art process relies on the consumption of film and visual media in similar ways that she consumes music – the sharing of each other’s small obsessions within these worlds has added so much to my work too! I think being visible queer women in the arts that are outspoken about justice, subverting systems, trans/racial/queer/gender equality and using our platforms to further conversations is really important and powerful to do with a partner that you respect and love.

T: Being her partner has greatly impacted the way I make and think about my work. It is very easy for me to fall into a state of self doubt when it comes to writing music, often leaving me creatively stagnant or just plain insecure. Her zeal for making and thinking along with her deliberate acts of creative discipline have had a huge influence on me. To make and think alongside someone equally as curious yet completely unafraid of the trials and errors of creative work is an inspirational blessing.

…and one more thing.

T: There is a shared respect and admiration for each other as human beings that transcends just romantic love and partnership. She is not my “other half” nor am I hers –– we are both complete wholes actively choosing to walk beside each other; she is my best friend and probably, I hate to admit, the funniest person I know.

J: I’m quite a skeptic of romantic love, especially finding a partner that values independence and understands artistic goals – Tiana has challenged all these preconceived ideas since day one. Our love is  full of respect, humor, ideas, growth, art, and it’s been one of the sweetest things in my life thus far.

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This interview is part of a series. You can read more Art + Love interviews here.

Featured Image: Two photos of Jennifer and Tiana together. In one, there is a kiss on the cheek happening. In the other they are both wearing sunglasses and looking into the camera
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