Pen and pencil

Jessica Stockholder

Artist Statement January 2011

"I began, and still do begin, with a love for color and unrelenting interest in the intersection of a pictorial way of looking, (or thinking,) with the physical matter of the body and the materiality of things in space. I continue to be interested in how experience of the physical world, its form, and our form determine how and what we are capable of thinking. Both the structure of our perceptual apparatus (eyes, brain, size) and the given nature of the cosmos are the foundation for thought and understanding. Following from these givens we humans use metaphor to build elaborate abstract and concrete structures to live within. In this way I find form to be full of significance.

The surfaces of walls and objects are full of pictorial potential. The surface of an object purports to let us know something about its mass. This something is sometimes accurate, or informative about the nature of the thing we are apprehending, and sometimes the surface tells another story entirely — sometimes the surface generates a kind of fiction. It is this possibility, inherent in materiality, to generate fiction that I am enamored with. This interest has fueled my exploration of how paint meets, sticks to, or appears to jump off of, many different kinds of material. The addition of more materials put pressure on the edges of the frame.

I have explored the question of boundary first as it is proposed by the picture frame. I began with paint on canvas. Quickly I started adding things to the paint, and became interested in the materiality and dimension of the canvas. The relationship of the un-stretched canvas to the wall it hangs on was questioned. The loose fabric did not have the same mirroring relationship to the stiff wall as does a stretched canvas. I began to tend to the wall as a site with particular qualities. I placed multiple pieces of things in relation to one another on the wall and tended to the negative space between them. It became apparent that once having breached the boundary established by the painting frame the edges of the wall stepped in to establish boundary. And so, I moved from the wall out onto the floor in front of the wall, and then my attention moved past the walls of the room. I tended to light coming in from outside and vistas seen through windows. This exploration of physical boundary is resonant with the complexity of the boundaries we establish between one another in personal, social, cultural, and legal realms. The question of how we exist as individuals within a larger whole from which we are inseparable, and how we manage this juncture resonates with hundreds of years of philosophy, psychology and history.

Making sense of ourselves, the choices we make, and our reasons for living we must account for feelings alongside thoughts. I don’t believe the two are separable. Color evokes feeling; I am not sure why, but I do know that it does. I work with color, form and composition exploring the links between emotive and thoughtful response. My works provide an opportunity to reify internal mind/feeling space. For a moment the abstract insubstantial nature of feeling/thoughts can be experienced as external and embodied by material.

I am interested in ascertaining just what the nature of my experience is and noticing how the world I live in is meaningful in a very direct way. However, I have, through this process of inquiry become interested in and concerned about the nature of the objects I make use of. These things I find, buy, or accept as gifts, are made in myriad countries using a vast array of different skills, crafts and systems. They reference very different time periods, carry with them and reference many different histories. The collection of objects that I have easy access to is stunning in its diversity. I make my work in relationship to this backdrop and I have care and feeling for what it portends."