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Jennifer Colten



Jennifer Colten is a photographer whose work examines the representation of landscape, embedded cultural geographies, and environmental implications of land use. Her work examines patterns of cultural erasure and is invested in multiple forms of collaboration with communities, local histories, and public spaces. For the past seven years, Colten’s work has been primarily centered within the American Bottom region, a continually enigmatic and compelling 65-mile stretch along the Mississippi River in Illinois.

Colten is part of a team of artists, educators, and researchers recently awarded a Mellon Foundation Humanities Grant for the project Mississippi River Open School for Kinship and Social Exchange. Centered within five hubs along the Mississippi River, this emergent work facilitates creative partnerships at the confluence of race, geography, and cultural knowledge.

In 2021, she was included in the Saint Louis Art Museum’s exhibition, “Art Along the Rivers,” where her photographs were placed both inside the museum exhibition as well as on six billboards in the landscape of the American Bottom.

Past and ongoing projects have received support from a Regional Arts Commission Fellowship Grant recognizing sustained commitment and artistic vibrancy. Colten’s work is focused on the region’s social and racial inequities, and in 2017 she was awarded a Ferguson Academic Seed Grant from WashU for longstanding work documenting Washington Park Cemetery, once the largest African American Cemetery in the St Louis region.

In addition to private collections, Colten’s photographs have been included in a number of international public collections including at the Denver Art Museum; Museum für Fotografie in Braunschweig, Germany; Museum Hundertwasser in Vienna, Austria; as well as across Colombia at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Bogota, Museo de Antioquia, and Bellas Artes Instituto in Medellin.

Personal website

Work by Jennifer Colten

A mountain/hill/mound obscured by spindly trees in the foreground. The sky is gray-blue with overcast.

Mound [6135], 2020

from the ongoing project Significant & Insignificant Mounds.
A mound with patches of green grass here and there; beyond it are a shed/buildings and several bare trees.

Mound [6330], 2016

from the ongoing project Significant & Insignificant Mounds.
Beyond two golden mounds/hilltops, the sign "Shop 'n Save" in a red calligraphic brush font, on the façade of an obscured storefront, centered in the photograph. The sky is a light blue, the clouds washed away.

Mound [3297], 2017

from the ongoing project Significant & Insignificant Mounds.
A light-hued fence along the side of a house: a rectangular portion is a darker brown, in front of which on the ground is a hand-lettered sign that reads, "INDIAN MOUND MOTEL" — "ALL NEW ROOMS." The sky is white and the grass on which the sign rests is green-brown.

Mound [4005], 2018

from the ongoing project Significant & Insignificant Mounds.
A large structure wrapped in black material, behind bushes of yellowed grass. The background is a light blue-white sky.

Mound [7791], 2018

from the ongoing project Significant & Insignificant Mounds.
10 slaminstall.2493

Documentation, Saint Louis Art Museum, Art Along the Rivers exhibition, 2021

From Significant & Insignificant Mounds
02 mound.6909

Mound [6909], Significant & Insignificant Mounds, 2018

03 mound.ab.3297

Mound [3297], Significant & Insignificant Mounds, 2018

05 tower.1695 (1)

Tower. 1695, Standard of Repose, 2019

04 ab.5225

AB. 5225, The American Bottom, 2022

06tower.1634 (2)

Tower. 1634, Standard of Repose, 2019

07 blr.8447

BLR. 8447, Between the Levee and the River, 2021

08 blr.3560

BLR. 3560, Between the Levee and the River, 2022

09 doublepresence.estl.9363

Documentation, Billboard, Double Presence

From Significant & Insignificant Mounds, 2021/2022