Jaanika Peerna

New York, USA

Jaanika Peerna is an Estonia-born artist who, since 1998, has lived and worked primarily in New York.

Peerna’s work encompasses drawing, video, installation and performance, often dealing with the theme of transitions in light, air, water and other natural phenomena. She often collaborates with designers, dancers and musicians within her performances.

The artist’s work has always been fueled by the forces of nature, but since 2017 she has taken on more specific approach. Furthermore, she is now deeply concerned with addressing the climate breakdown we are all surrounded by. This is seen specifically in her Glacier Elegy Projects. This on-going series of projects consist of exhibition-size installations and live drawing performances, with the central piece being a large drawing. The large drawing is made with audience participation during her performance and subsequently melted with blocks of ice.

Glacier Elegy has had a strong impact on the participants in diverse communities and locations where Peerna has performed. This includes ArtDepoo gallery in Tallinn, Estonia; Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea, UK and Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT, USA.

“I make drawings, videos and installations. My elements are line and light; my materials are pencils, vellum and video camera. I am a vessel gathering subtle and rapturous processes in nature, using the experiences and impulses to make my work. I record mist turning into water. I use slowly changing lights to cast shadows of mylar strips onto a wall—The slowness of shadows makes one wonder if there is any change at all.

I let wind move my body so that it leaves traces on paper. I swim through thousands of layers of gray air and mark each one down. Most of my work is born in the solitude of my studio. Sometimes public performances with musicians and dancers draw me out from the safe silence of my space and expand my drawing practice with sound and movement. I am interested in the never-ending process of becoming with no story, no beginning, no end—just the current moment in flux.” Jaanika Peerna



Key facts

View CV
  • Solo exhibitions include: Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT; Artdepoo Gallery and Vana-Wõromaa Cultural Center, Estonia; Salon b, Montreal; Espronceda Center for Art and Culture, Barcelona; Kentler International Drawing Space, New York.
  • Group exhibitions internationally, including Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY; Viinistu Art Museum Chapel, Estonia; International Paper Art Biennial, curated by Thalia Vrachopoulos, City Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria.
  • Performances: The Bronx Museum, New York; Hudson Valley Centre of Contemporary Art: Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT.
  • Collections: important international collections including The Bennetton Collection, Italy; Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris; Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, Wales; Garrison Art Center, New York; Novosibirsk Art Museum, Russia and Imago Mundi.