There has been an evolution in Jennifer Mourin’s paintings of Mother Earth in recent months. The Malaysian-born artist – known for her bold, bright and vivid paintings of the divine feminine and Mother Earth in all her guises – has incorporated more animals into her art, specifically some of the world’s endangered species, and then there is the facial expression of Mother Earth herself.
An intense gaze from Mother Earth is now present throughout Jennifer Mourin’s paintings, as Mother Earth looks intently into the eyes of viewers. The intense gaze is intentional of course – in part a reflection of the pain, abuse and suffering that has been afflicted upon Mother Earth by humans on a daily basis – be it deforestation, pollutants, loss of animal kingdoms, indigenous people, and their habitats.
The paintings are part of Jennifer Mourin’s new Mother GAIA series which calls on people to take stock of what they are sacrificing in the name of greed, selfishness, and over-consumption. These new paintings assert “the need to respect, protect and defend our planet and her progeny against abuse, exploitation, depletion and death”.
“In all of the paintings, Mother Earth is looking at you and in her eyes she’s saying: ‘Don’t you remember, I’m your mother’,” Jennifer Mourin explains. “We live in this planet, why can’t we be the children that will take care of her. In that short time that we live on this planet why can’t we care for our mother that sustains us.”
Jennifer Mourin’s manifestation of Mother Earth has taken on many different forms too, a reflection of the various physical manifestations of Gaia herself. “Sometimes she looks Asian, Arab, American, but in all of them she’s just looking at you. The eyes, as they peer out, they condemn – she’s questioning ‘why are you doing this to me?’”.
There is a sense of urgency in Jennifer Mourin’s recent paintings as the environmental and political messages that she conveys has reached “boiling point” in the world. The artist’s personification of Mother Earth in the women she paints surrounded by the animals facing extinction, stares people in the eye, calling for people to change, and for the killings to stop.
However, in spite of the gravity of the issues, Jennifer Mourin’s art is deeply positive in nature too, drawing on the strength, faith and love of Gaia too. “On one hand she is condemning, and yet on the other hand Mother Earth isn’t, because there’s still love for her children,” Jennifer Mourin adds.
The artist, who mainly paints women, wants to change the way that women are perceived in the world, and to bring about an awareness of the true nature of women. “I paint mostly women, women in different roles – as mothers,” the artist explains. “I do believe in women supporting women. There’s been a lot of talk about the rise of the feminine force and I think that’s very important because there needs to be a counter force to what has been going on for a long time in the world.”
The role of woman, Mother Earth in particular, is still the centrepiece in Jennifer Mourin’s artworks, and the nurturing energy of women is still predominant throughout her paintings. The death of Jennifer Mourin’s cat and loyal companion earlier this year saw the artist plough more energy into her art. “I transmuted that grief, and art became a bit of a therapy so practically to get over grief and to partially cement the issues that I was researching,” Jennifer Mourin says. “I felt like I needed to commit myself to more of my passion. The passion within my art changed and I was thinking what really bothers me. And what really bothers me is the treatment of animals. Suddenly it crystalised that I needed to do something with my art in a way that would reach people.”
Having grown up in Malaysia, Jennifer Mourin has always been aware of the mistreatment of animals in her home country. She has previously painted and brought to the attention the plight of endangered species native to Malaysia including the Malayan tiger, Hawksbill turtle, Borneo elephant and Rhinoceros hornbill. That focus has now extended to include animals facing threat worldwide, including polar bears. With the worldwide issues of palm oil, deforestation and loss of orang-utans literally on her door-step, she is more than aware of the changes that need to happen, not just in Malaysia and nearby Indonesia, but globally too.
One particular story of animal mistreatment really touched Jennifer Mourin. It was the story of Juma, the female jaguar who was shot dead in Brazil last year, shortly after appearing as part of an Olympic torch ceremony in Manaus. The fatal shooting led the artist to direct her energies into creating a series of paintings depicting Juma. One of those is The Blessing.
Part of the Mother GAIA series, The Blessing features a jaguar who lays surrounded by Gaia and rainforest animals. There too is the image of a hand with a young cub, honouring the blessing of Gaia’s children be they in animal form or in “human” form.
Speaking about The Blessing, Jennifer Mourin says: “People need to remember that cruelty to animals continues unabated as they are killed for sport, greed and other human vanities, and their habitat destroyed.”
Jennifer Mourin is a prolific writer and campaigner, as well as an artist. The artist devotes much of her energy to raising awareness of the injustices being done to Mother Earth, indigenous tribes and animals worldwide. The artist uses social media, particularly Facebook, as a way to connect to like-minded individuals as well as those who admire and appreciate her artwork. “The world needs different ways of understanding the world,” she says. “So many people are recognising there needs to be a different way to live, a different way to understand things. So many people are finding their path to this.”
The Penang-based artist is as much of a truth seeker as she is a truth provider. “There’s now so much fake news and putting down of climate change, for instance,” Jennifer Mourin explains. “Just look around and there’s so many examples of what’s really going on. Communities that are doing work to protect this planet including wildlife and indigenous people, they are being killed off. There are so many species that are threatened. It’s a global issue now.
“People need to look around. What do you do? Everybody can contribute in one way or another – you can write songs about it, you can write about it, you can paint about it – and let other people know what is going on.”
Besides supporting initiatives from the likes of WWF and Greenpeace, the artist felt she had to contribute in a way that resonates most with her and enables her to communicate best. “My skill is to paint and that’s where I put my energy into, art – that’s how I like to talk to people,” Jennifer Mourin says. “When I put the information out there on Facebook, it’s a chance for me to articulate that ‘did you know this animal is dying out?’ My art is beyond just a decorative on the wall as a momentum – as long as I paint from the heart, based on what I care about, it keeps me honest, it keeps my paintings honest.”
What particularly stands out about Jennifer Mourin’s paintings is her use of colour. The bright and vivacious colours depict vitality and lifeforce. The artist explains: “The combination of colour, this is the vision I have of a healthy Mother Earth. She’s vibrant, she’s beautiful, she’s blooming – that’s how she should be, not desecrated and dying.”
Jennifer Mourin’s paintings truly are a gift, and for each person who view her paintings, they find something special in them. The artist talks candidly about a little girl at one of her exhibitions who pointed to The Remembering – a painting featuring Mother Earth breastfeeding her baby, while Juma the Jaguar and sea turtles look onwards – and proclaimed “it’s like Moana”. “I burst out laughing and I was filled with joy because she got it,” Jennifer Mourin explains. “She equated my work to the earth goddess of Tahiti.”
The artist also recalls how a health professor reached out to her after seeing one of her paintings of Mother Earth breastfeeding, and told Jennifer Mourin, “you make the links so well”.
Such examples demonstrate the way in which the artist’s message spreads. “People are finding things in my art, which is what I want. Because of that little girl, a few other people started looking at The Remembering and talking about it,” Jennifer Mourin says. “And now the professor is using one of my paintings as a visual aid as in her teachings. If my art can contribute to that discourse of awareness, then at least what my Soul has pushed me to do, it’s worthwhile.”
Jennifer Mourin’s paintings are available to purchase online from Fine Art America
All images: © Jennifer Mourin
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. Follow Rosa on Twitter.