Jessica observes, records, and re-imagines transformations in the landscape through the language of painting with the communication methods of early Western alchemists.
Her work is based on the principle that unstructured time outdoors is essential. You might find her noting the comings and goings of spring ephemerals, observing warblers in the fall, or watching the ever-changing array of sea ice form and reform on the winter beach. She has a seasonal plein air practice with pastel, watercolor, and gouache. She processes organic and historic pigments, dyes, and fibers into paintings, drawings, and sculptures.
Her practice is built upon the language of painting, utilizing both contemporary and historic media and materials such as oil, french chalk, rabbit skin glue, linen, and beeswax in addition to acrylic, gesso, found cloth, tin, and resin. Paramount to her work is the fourfold division of support, grounds, paint, and varnish, the traditional ingredients of a painting. Always trying to deepen her understanding of her craft, she explores gilding, traditional gesso techniques, pigments and binders, and varnishes or lack thereof. Jessica’s approach is based in a personal history of painting, whether she is working in painting, sculpture, drawing, or printmaking.
Her practice pokes holes in cultural narratives of nature by creating opportunities for viewers to interpret and categorize “natural,” “organic,” and “scientific” signifiers in her work.
Jessica is interested in opening the door of ecology to her viewer. Her works provoke the viewer with abstracted images of place and hand-processed materials. Her tactics include the amalgamation of esoteric and mundane materials, illusion, sensory allure, and repulsion. Her studio is a laboratory for experimentation, extraction, isolation, and fermentation where projects change from month to month, reflecting seasonal availability of material and content.
When foraging for materials to use in her studio, Jessica collects objects which will put the relationship between nature and culture at the forefront of the discussion in her works. Her pieces with blue mussels, for example, are imbued with the species’ cultural and ecological significance: they are a symbol of place and a food for family gatherings, while also being subject to ever-changing challenges such as tides, terrestrial and aquatic predators, salinity changes, and crashing waves. By using wax casts of mussels and crushing their shells for pigment, Jessica brings these conversations into her examination of place.
Using themes of materia prima, transmutation, and material investigation, Jessica’s discussion of landscape becomes one of transformation. Less interested in making gold than her ancient counterparts, Jessica uses the pedagogical tools of Greco-Egyptian alchemists--allegory, symbols, and codes--to pass on wisdom and revelations about place through her practice as a maker. Manipulating natural materials into cultural artifacts--paintings, sculptures, and drawings--invites the viewer to reevaluate and broaden their definitions of nature and culture.