Just before graduating from college, I discovered a painting technique that creates unusual, miniscule patterns where the paint colors bleed into each other. I have always been captivated by scientific imagery such as fossils and microscope slides. The beautiful texture created in the paint reminded me of other organic patterns, and I felt compelled to spend several years learning how to control and exploit the phenomenon.
In my new work, I present autobiographical information (revealed in the titles) through minimal abstract compositions. Some paintings consist of large texture fields, which may evoke dark landscapes. The position of the horizon or boundary line relates to an important threshold that I have crossed in my life, such as the age when I discovered shame, or was involved in a near-fatal accident. The vertical ratio of one texture to another is equivalent to the percentage of my life that I have been affected. I feel that allusions to landscapes and pathology are appropriate in this context.
Other work is quantitative. I have counted, with as much accuracy as possible, various actions or objects that deeply affect me, and I represent these with an equivalent number of simple shapes in the paintings. Specificity and honesty are important to me; however, I don’t always expect viewers to grasp the exact numbers presented. It can be enough, or sometimes even better conceptually, that it is just “a lot” of something.
I love the marriage of informed minimal compositions and this painting technique because, while sometimes frustratingly temperamental, it can yield pleasant surprises, appropriate complexity, and novel beauty.
~ Jessica John
Jessica John grew up in rural Pennsylvania, where Amish neighbors regularly frowned upon her blatant wearing of colorful shorts. Two events from those years have reverberated through her life and art.
When she was fourteen, Jessica was struck by a car on a small back road; she cracked her head, broke both legs and one arm. While she still suffers negative effects, Jessica locates her appreciation for simple joys such as walking in that formative experience. She also developed a fascination with bones and associated medical imagery.
Three years later, her little brother developed a rare form of leukemia and Jessica donated bone marrow for his successful transplant. Following her brother’s recovery, she felt that anything was possible and decided to become an artist and apply at an art school which she knew to be hopelessly out of her league. Jessica was at work in an ice cream parlor when she found out that she had been accepted and given a full $100,000 scholarship to the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City. She celebrated with vanilla.
At Cooper, video and photography were her preferred media; she enjoyed making department store wilderness photographs and deteriorated video installations. Just before graduating, Jessica discovered a painting technique which creates beautiful, organic textures with a unique luminescence. She realized that this was something no one else was doing, and loved the strange, miniscule shapes created in the paint. The technique was so interesting that Jessica shelved all other media and spent several years developing and learning to better control its rich potential.
Jessica supported her research with various arts and technology-related jobs, including Production Assistant in the Radiology Department at Mass General Hospital in Boston. While there, she won several national awards for educational graphic design and further developed her keen appreciation for black and white medical imagery. This continues to inform and inspire her artwork today.