Jenny Polak

Jenny Polak headshot

Jenny Polak

After witnessing and spurning the nature of immigration laws in England, Jenny Polak was galvanized to combat policy-based social injustices. Trained as an architect, she realizes her activism through site-specific artworks—architectural installations, drawings, and practical objects—for the physical and temporal reach they can have, transcending that of synchronous, live events. Polak’s art-based activism directly addresses American immigration injustice, especially prejudice against undocumented immigrants, and the discriminatory prison system. Harnessing the power of a group of voices to energize policy change, she collaborates with local communities to build site-specific works in urban spaces.

Polak has exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, BRIC, and Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, TX; the Newark Museum; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL; the First Floor Gallery, Harare, Zimbabwe; Les Kurbas Centre, Kyiv, Ukraine; and Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, Holland Tania Bruguera's Museum of Arte Útil Archive. She has been a resident at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Grand Canyon National Parks, and the Camargo/Art Matters/Jerome Foundation. The artist has received a Creatives Rebuild New York award and fellowships at New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, BRIC, and the Socrates Sculpture Park. Her work is in the permanent collections of the MoMA Library; the Griffiss International Sculpture Garden, Rome NY; The International Contemporary Art Foundation, Louisville, KY; and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Culver City, CA. Polak holds two BA degrees, in Architecture from Cambridge University and in Fine Art and Critical Studies from St. Martins School of Art, and an MFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts.