|Multiplication 2, 2012|
I adored working creatively with Jessica Bell a while back--you may remember this piece she created in response to my poem, “Apparent Magnitude.” I love following her work, and hearing her thoughts about making.
What continues to amaze me about Jessica’s artwork is the certainty within her pieces. When I look at her collages, paintings, and photos, I feel, “Yes, everything is in its place. Everything is where it should be. Including me.” In her collages and paintings, we can see houses, neighborhoods, skies, oceans, landscapes, horizons, fields. I often see reflections of Vancouver, a city I love and miss. She puts us, the viewer, in a safe, specific place for looking. Though she is always working with fragments and layers, there is nothing disorienting about her art. Here it is, and here we are, witnessing it. Her art impacts the way I see....often, I am walking around town, and grabbed by a specific image (usually a building or interesting set of textures)....I think, “Here’s a Jessica Bell photo op.”
Q: Many of your pieces rely on layers (of paint, fabric, or paper) or edges (the edges of a cutout or the seams between colors and textures in your photos). How do you decide what to cover up and what to reveal? What do the concepts of borders, layers, and being exposed mean to you?
A: Well, the truth is, the way I decide what to hide and what to reveal isn't always the same. On rare occasions, I have a clear vision for what I want a piece to be about; I am very intentional in building the layers and history from the materials before I edit it into completion by committing to a set form. A successful piece of work for me needs to have the right balance of design and idea. For me, the one always proceeds the other. When I am layering on paint, or collage, or drawing media, or cutting up fabric, I work mostly on instinct: if a fabric piece is not quite right, I cut it up. If a painting is awkward in one area, (often for reasons I can't articulate, but just know in my gut), I will take my painters tape, mask off that section and lay down a new layer. What is always interesting to me in deliberately removing elements from my work is that while it appears I am taking something away, I am always, in fact, creating something new. What was done before is always there, percolating below or reincarnated as a fragment. When I am working on my layers, I am very conscious of creating material history; this has become really important to me.
|There Goes the Neighbourhood 2, 2012|
|Suburb (Vessels 1-21), 2012|
Note: All images are courtesy of the artist.