Jen Goya creates art with multiple perspectives, humor - Mid-Pacific Institute

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Jen Goya creates art with multiple perspectives, humor

Posted on May 8, 2017 by Scot Allen

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Jen Goya presents a paper version of the web-based art she exhibited in Mississippi.


In April, Digital Media Arts Teacher Jennifer Goya took part in a Virtual Visiting Artist program at the University of Mississippi, and was also featured in a solo show at the Misbits Gallery in Oxford, Miss.

"A classmate from grad school asked me if I would want to have a solo show; I said yes and made new work for the show," Goya said. Specifically two new interactive pieces. One was a web-based narrative and the other was an interactive media installation (see the main image at the top of this page).

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A visitor in the Misbits Gallery experiences Goya's art.


"Oxford is such a cool community," Goya said. "Both young and old came out for the reception. People really wanted to hear more and came out to the artist talk. They had a sincere interest to learn more about my art. It was refreshing and so cool to see all sorts of people get a kick out of my work..."

For the interactive media installation she created some custom software so that the user could play ordinary sounds to make up the pronunciation of the state fish, the Humuhumunukunukuapua`a. "Basically it was a custom instrument where people could play the sounds in order, out of order... when they played it, it also corresponded to a visual," she said. "Every button press generates a sound and a visual."

This piece represents a way to reinact her teenage experiences working at a Crazy Shirts store in Waikiki. "I had an experience of helping a woman who was looking at a Humuhumunukunukuapua`a shirt and was totally making fun of ... even at that age I was aware that there was a difference in the way she was using the word and how other people butchered the word, mostly in fun," she said. "This woman was almost rude and didn't really want me to talk to her. I realized that she was mocking the word and not really open to understanding Hawaiʻi. This experience was turned into the website with other interactive elements."

The website tells the story in any order you choose. "The interactive installation tells this story in a playful way by reimagining this experience. I wanted to show other sides of Hawaiʻi that aren't promoted as much," she said.

She was also invited to do an artist talk and participate in critiques of graduate student work at the Virtual Visiting Artist program at the University of Mississippi. She met with traditional grad students... print makers, painters and a ceramics artist. "They don't do digital art there yet," she said, "so it was interesting to have those conversations. With the ceramics grad student, I talked about scale and story. We actually had a lot to talk about. The story behind the work. One student had just finished a thesis and was looking for teaching opportunities."

Born and raised in Kalihi, Goya graduated from Roosevelt High School. She attended Hampshire College in Massachusetts, where she created video art and oral history documentaries. For graduate school, she attended the School of Visual Arts in New York. "That's where I learned to design custom interactive controller software, " she said.

Goya worked for National Public Radio's "StoryCorps" for more than three years. "I still love StoryCorps," she said. "it was a truly formative place and project to work for."

In her recent work she worked with her own stories and experiences, but she has also worked with other people's stories. She is currently working on a printed version of the art featured in the Oxford gallery. She also hopes to do more kid-friendly stuff, engaging them on different levels.

"I want to bring attention to the absurd," she said. "I like to make things that have that duality. I like to tell stories that have multiple perspectives. In the Humuhumunukunukuapua`a piece I wanted to make it playful, but also tell a story that made people feel uncomfortable. I use that humor to make those uncomfortable things more digestable. I feel like I may be able to influence someone's perspective on Hawaiʻi."