Jeanette Andrews is an artist, magician and researcher. Her practice seeks to create, and create access to wondrous things. Andrews’ work focuses on the development of interactive magic and sensory illusions via performance, sculpture, installation and audio.
Over 25 years of specialized study and technical training in parlor and sleight of hand magic has afforded her a distinct perspective on crafting experiences with nuanced psychological underpinnings, direction of attention and inattention, the creation of surreal visuals and designing/building objects that function differently than they appear. Her research-based process centers around phenomenological philosophy, contemporary cognitive science and physics. Her work is rooted in highlighting astonishing aspects of everyday life via moments of the seemingly impossible. This draws viewers’ awareness to the dynamic process of sensory perception itself and ‘sensing oneself sensing’ to create a lived phenomenology. Themes of her pieces have included invisibility, impossible objects, the relationship between scent and magic, unseen communication, and how illusions can construct reality. Scientific oddities, historic anecdotes, and sensory anomalies combine with magic and illusion to create interactive experiences. In an increasingly connected and knowledge-driven world, an explicit goal of her practice is to foster empathy and spark curiosity, contemplation and wonder.
Andrews works closely with museums and galleries to recontextualize magic within the cultural arts and explore the craft as a performance art medium. She has presented numerous commissioned works with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, including her 2020 poetic audio AR work, “Invisible Museums of the Unseen.” Further site-specific works for museums include the Elmhurst Art Museum, Birmingham Museum of Art and International Museum of Surgical Science.
Andrews is also an acclaimed speaker, presenting talks and workshops on the psychology and science of magic, and how to design the seemingly impossible. These include presentations with the Smithsonian’s National Design Museum Cooper Hewitt, Chicago Ideas Week, Fortune 500 companies, universities and conferences across the country. She is a prior artist in residence for High Concept Labs and The Institute for Art and Olfaction. Illusion is Andrews’ life’s work and her performances have been praised by the Chicago Tribune, PBS, and the New York Times.