A CONVERSATION WITH JESSICA LAWRENCE ON THE OCCASION OF BESIDES AT GRIN
GRIN - How do you decide on your materials? It seems that they often include domestic object - does this come from a personal place, is it the product of observation, or both?
Jessica Lawrence - I often find myself obsessing over the flooring and wall paneling in grocery stores, fitness centers, and office spaces. My most recent fixation is with the type of speckled rubber tile whose sole purpose seems to be convincing us all that the floor is clean. I’ve seen the same patterning on the wall paneling of the train, but it’s gross to imagine it’s intended to create the same type of camouflage.
It’s so interesting that you can find such specificity in color and design, but for the most part it goes unnoticed. For me it feels like there’s this densely rich history that only adds complexity to the rest of it’s mundane surroundings. So, I use this stuff and hope it attaches a layer of criticality to whatever I put it on or next to. These simulated realms, or object caricatures, operate as an anthropological challenge and allow people to rediscover their surroundings.
Where domesticity is concerned, my approach is to reinterpret familiar objects and spaces using familiar materials, and domestic objects are very good at creating a false sense of the personal. However, while the spaces I create may suggest that they are inhabited, I ultimately want to create a sterile and systematic environment.
GRIN- Where do you live? Where do you work? Are these places the products of convenience, calculated choice, or necessity? Do you see yourself in a different place 5 years from now?
JL- I live and work in Philadelphia. I’m probably here now because I’ve always been here. While I find myself steadily inspired by this city the ideas that I’m working with aren’t firmly grounded in anything Philadelphian, so I can visualize myself in many different places in the future.
GRIN - Utilizing relatable subject or material often amplifies a viewer's interaction with a work. What level of consideration do you place with this reaction during your process?
JL- I once read somewhere that simulated objects can’t be penetrated because they have nothing to conceal, which if true would mean my objects and images have the capacity to project their own transparency. This idea feels critical to the overall experience I’m interested in eliciting because I can utilize the accessibility of the familiar to create physical metaphors that guide the viewer through my sculptures.
A fundamental concept in my work is the way both physical and intangible characteristics of an object dictate our experience of them. I am intrigued by the subtle shifts in perception that occur when what we think of as an object’s inherent qualities are reconstructed or manipulated to remove a singular representation of meaning. I continue to wonder how hybrid forms and constructions--particularly the combination of analog and digital languages--can reveal new or unexpected facets of a familiar object, which may result in a dialogue that questions our own relationship to a material’s implied history.
In my most recent practice, I am interested in working with the associative nature of materials through explorations such as object placement, photography, and varying levels of digital and material manipulation. These relationships are the basis of internal reflection which compels us to explore how time, identity, and existence are exposed through the subtleties of material and object interaction.
Jessica Lawrence earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts from Moore College of Art & Design and was a recent resident at the Vermont Studio Center in November 2015. She lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.