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20x200 Artist Spotlight: Jenny Odell

Shipping Containers by Jenny Odell

Jenny Odell has been serving us some spectacularly fresh perspectives from the moment we released her first edition back in 2010. Since then, we’ve featured a number of her captivating collages, including all sorts of way-above-bird’s-eye views of swimming pools, airplanes, circular farms and so much more. If you’re unfamiliar with Odell’s work, it might make sense to describe it is as a series of collections. Scouring Google Satellite View, Odell finds and isolates similar structures and infrastructures, reassembling them in puzzle-like formations against a unified background. Seen from so far above, these decontextualized groupings remind us of human impact, approaching the built environment like a wellspring of magnificent, fragile minutiae. Did we mention that Odell’s editions are downright beautiful too? In Odell’s world, waste ponds look like seaglass and industrial buildings become jewelry beads.

It’s no surprise that Odell’s work has been widely celebrated, perhaps most notably by her primary source: Google. At the Google Data Center building in Mayes County, Oklahoma, four of Odell’s pieces (three of which are available as 20x200 editions, nbd) were recently unveiled as massive murals on a side wall. They’re incredibly striking amidst a relatively flat landscape. We love that Google has embraced Odell’s art and its own role in it.

This summer, Odell will be an artist in residence at the Palo Alto Art Center, continuing the Bureau of Suspended Objects, a project begun during last summer’s residency at Recology SF. Phase two involves other people’s “pre-trash” items, the things that are considered junk but have yet to be cleaned out. Odell will photograph the items, conduct interviews with the owners, and research the background history of the object for each person who brings in an item.


Not too long ago, we stopped by Odell’s studio ourselves to learn more about her process, uncover her habits (coffee drinking and podcast listening, among others), and see the workspace that inspired eleven 20x200 editions. Our findings? We’re thrilled to have Jenny Odell’s awesome, idiosyncratic art available on our site, where it’s perfectly poised to keep us thinking about the world around us.

With art for everyone,
Jen Bekman + Team 20x200