The Jenni Crain Foundation

Jenni Crain (1991–2021) was an esteemed artist and curator who passed away suddenly due to complications related to Covid-19. She was widely recognized for her original minimalist sculpture and curatorial projects that championed under-recognized women artists as well as for her rigorous scholarship and writing. Crain was a passionate and tireless advocate of artists and art. Throughout her life, she built a vast community of friends, collaborators, and colleagues whose work she drove forward with generosity, sensitivity, and the deep probing intelligence with which she considered the world.

The Foundation preserves her legacy by supporting transformative projects by artists, curators, and writers of any age at early or pivotal stages of their career.

In honor of her memory, The Jenni Crain Foundation provides grants in two areas:
1. Finishing funds toward the completion of a significant project ranging from an exhibition, arts publication, or work of art across disciplines and forms.
2. Support for original research which may include travel, accommodation, and any funds required for accessing or studying materials.

Donations may be mailed to the address below or made online via PayPal or Square. Fundraising editions are available here.

The Jenni Crain Foundation
130 Third Avenue Brentwood, NY 11717

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Jenni Crain

Synonyms for Sorrow
Gordon-Robichaux, New York, NY
Patricia L. Boyd, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Taylor Davis, Masao Gozu, Dan Graham, Park McArthur, Shanekia McIntosh
Originally presented at Charim Schleifmühlgasse, Vienna, AT
Invited by SORT, Vienna, AT
June 19 – July 31, 2022

Gordon Robichaux is honored to present two related exhibitions celebrating Jenni Crain’s expansive vision as a curator and artist: Synonyms for Sorrow, Crain’s final curatorial project realized during her lifetime, and an exhibition of her own artwork created shortly before her sudden passing in 2021.

Synonyms for Sorrow was curated by Crain at the invitation of SORT and presented at Charim Schleifmühlgasse in Vienna, Austria from October 23 to November 28, 2021. The group exhibition features work by seven artists—Patricia L. Boyd, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Taylor Davis, Masao Gozu, Dan Graham, Park McArthur, and Shanekia McIntosh—in varied media including video, sculpture, photography, and text. The show is installed at Gordon Robichaux in suite 925 in a similar arrangement to the original presentation Crain realized in Vienna.

In Gordon Robichaux’s second exhibition space in suite 907, the gallery will present two of Crain’s artworks—a wood sculpture presented on a pedestal near the floor and a framed photograph—originally created for a group show, In an Archipelago, curated by Parker Kay at Pumice Raft in Toronto, Canada (May 5–May 30, 2021). These two works are among the last pieces Crain completed during her lifetime.

* * *

I am reluctant to extend too many words that seek to describe this space referred to as sorrow, which I hope, here, might be felt. Held. Independently. Together. Not held in a way that contains, but held in a way that acknowledges, appreciates, addresses, resonates, reverberates, shakes, wakes, and, also, rests. For a moment.

I am interested in an idea of sitting with sorrow.

I have been thinking about sorrow as some sort of gravitational understanding. A knowing that is carried in the body, or exists in the body, as what is conventionally considered as diametric, as opposition. These concurrent sensations simultaneously weigh one down, churn one up, and uproot. Existing, together, as suspension. A sensorial cyclone that displaces singularity.

Sorrow is beyond the body.

It seems to be a longing that is based both here and now and elsewhere.

Sorrow seems to be tethered to a connection between someone or something or someplace and someone or something or someplace else.

Its forms of isolation are always in proximity to another.


What’s so tender about sorrow is that this longing for what is not coexists with this type of coursing understanding that it cannot be. This is known in a nature not unlike breathing.

But just as vital as this knowing of what cannot and will not be, there is, in sorrow, a dependence on hope for that which cannot and will not be.

Nurture is not orderly.

Order does not amount to anything greater than these hallows of honesty.

I feel quite close to something dear when I sit with sorrow. Its absence seems to beat in the heart.

– Jenni Crain

Installation views from Synonyms for Sorrow, Gordon-Robichaux, New York, NY, June 19 – July 31, 2022. Courtesy Gordon Robichaux. Photo: Ryan Page.


Dan Graham Pavilions, 1996. Video; color, sound. Duration: 26 minutes


Taylor Davis ONE EIGTH DEAD CENTER, 2008. Cherry burl. 21 x 4 x 5 inches (53.3 x 10.2 x 12.7 cm)


Masao Gozu Mott Street (Chinatown) 4 PM. May 18, 1972, 2017 (printed). Archival print. 16 x 20 inches (40 x 50 cm) (unframed)


Theresa Hak Kyung Cha Re Dis Appearing, 1977. Video; b&w, sound. Duration: 2:30 minutes


Patricia L. Boyd Absorption, Elimination: Technics SL-1200MK2 (CCA Wattis, 10/12/17-02/24/18), 2017 - 2018. Used restaurant grease, wax, damar, resin, particle board. 23.5 x 15.6 x 3.8 inches (59.7 x 39.7 x 9.7 cm)

Park McArthur Involuntary Questions, 2020. Laser print, framed. 11.69 x 8.27 inches (29.7 x 21 cm) (unframed)
Park McArthur ...synthetic questions..., 2019. Laser print, framed. 11.69 x 8.27 inches (29.7 x 21 cm) (unframed)
Park McArthur Some follow up questions, 2017. Laser print, framed. 11.69 x 8.27 inches (29.7 x 21 cm) (unframed)
Park McArthur These are the questions I would ask, 2013. Laser print, framed. 11.69 x 8.27 inches (29.7 x 21 cm) (unframed)

Courtesy of the artist and Essex Street/Maxwell Graham.


Shanekia McIntosh Epitaph, 2019. Poem printed in wall vinyl.

[Complete poem follows exhibition documentation.]


Jenni Crain Untitled (Monarch Migration Grove, MX), 1998 / 2021. Photographic print on Kodak Royal Paper. 4 x 6 inches (Photograph)


Jenni Crain Untitled VII (Sections I, II, III), 2021. White oak. Left to right: Section I, 5.5 x 18.75 x 5.5 inches; Section II, 18.75 x 29.75 x 5.5 inches; Section III, 8.75 x 18.75 x 5.5 inches

Shanekia McIntosh
Epitaph, 2019

Take these notes. For An Epitaph of
mines, yours, and ours.

It all once felt limitless. Now stuck.
The possibilities are so fleeting.
We used to say “Come What May.”
Slowly, those words of assurance turned to
A pithy “Oh Dear.” As it continued to-
“Now What,” to a weakened shrug. That slow fade.
However stifling the codes and numbers seemed
To provide an easier route.

Transparently, ourselves and others.
The disappointment always radiating from mines to theirs
Skin peeled to expose raw humanity
Jealousy, vengeance, mobility, and other wayward ​politik
Wept for seeing too clearly.
Exposed myths
Scrolling infinitely
Pursuing desires, new modes, identities.
Imbued with fables of goddesses and self
Echoing into a fit
Nothing left for change.

We explored the outreaches
Looking to settle, for the chest tightened
Often enough for us to embrace the collapse
When the fear heightened.
“The experience of experience”; an incurable loop.

Suddenly. It feels futile to talk,
To receive. What is there to believe;
The easiness in which to throw away
The difficulties of confronting

Complications that come back to haunt.
Not the simplicity of who or what for, we know.
More of what we are to lose.
Are words no longer filled with the power as we were once taught,
Or is it merely another shallow image as we have long believed and feared.
The whispers that followed for so long.
Worked to be quieted—“Oh Dear”—
Returns to an uproarious volume.
Is it in the matter in which we mourn?

Abuses through inaction or faint acknowledgements.
Course correcting, attempting to keep up.

What deserves mourning?

I say it’s all over.
We do, with the algorithm that pushes
The thoughts of the apocalypse can only bring a relief, in some sense pleasure.

Compassion is too complicated.
Intoxicated by the blankness
Our silence bought us peace
The cost in the end was our shame.

I was also weak and somewhat a fool, could only look in horror and keep inventory.
“If complicated folks like complicated folks and if we are all complicated
Then what's the point of even speaking?” I thought. See, a fool. But no more
Foolish than you.

It felt best to embrace the eternal pool of silence.
Oh, how easy it is to admire the peace and the calm of the reflection of the familiar.
Humanity as your own responsibility undictated by anything else.

There was a day. It was yesterday or maybe 20 yesterdays.
We sat and breathed in the cold air;

To see Now.
“Break the cycle,” we said.
Duppies.​ All we are, see, surrounded—
The cold sweat.
a god. An idol created. from an idea of a noble life image.
When the future depended

Our throats are parched. We circle around each other
Confused and incapable, no, unwilling, to express
The old wounds and how often they flare and sting
The heart beating, that it reverberates throughout our bodies.
Waiting to tell.
Floating in and out the pressure that
brings a serene calm to capture the inexplicable.

Falling in a solace, a late-bloomed reckoning
What was so often dutifully ignored.

Faster and harder. To the toes. The weakened arms.
Floating. Reminders,
In the pit of the stomach. The hover over the shoulder.
There, Here, and There.

Must there be silence? Yes.
And when it hits, here it hits
The final question. The one it all depended on.

How will we be immortalized?
How will you?

There it is. That sunken feeling, the final trick.
To lend ourselves to a legacy that preserves without us.
What if it is no longer there?
Oh Dear.