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Creative Q&A #19 – Jessica Snow

August 4, 2009

Throw me for a Loop, 2009

Hi everyone! Got another great interview this week. Today I’m talking with artist Jessica Snow from San Francisco. Her abstract paintings are whimsical and rich in visual texture. There are so many interesting places to get lost in her work as your eyes explore the painting. You can catch more of her work as well as my interview  after the jump: 

Against Gravity, 2009

CR: What’s your artistic background?
Jessica Snow: In high school, my primary medium was photography. I had a Nikon film camera and I worked in the darkroom at school.  I continued to study photography when I went to UC Davis, but gradually focused on painting and drawing there because I didn’t particularly like the darkroom environment.  My mentors as an undergraduate were Wayne Thiebaud and Squeak Carnwath.  I went to graduate school at Mills College, where I studied painting with Hung Liu, poetry with Stephen Ratcliffe, and ceramics with Ron Nagle.  I was also a teaching assistant in the Art History department.  Although I am primarily a painter, digital photography is also an important pursuit since getting my Nikon D200 about 4 years ago.

CR: What’s your favorite medium to work with?
JS: I use a variety of different mediums for painting and drawing: oils, acrylics, watercolors, collage, etc.  I teach a class called Contemporary Practices, and I have my students focus on mixed-media painting and collage.  I don’t think I could choose one medium over another—my works on paper and my paintings are equally important to me, and my process and approach to the work is different with each medium. My works on paper tend to be more graphic and tightly constructed, whereas my paintings tend to be more experimental, open-ended, and loosely composed.

CR: What medium would you like to work with?
JS: I’m about to begin a 2-month residency program in digital printmaking at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, and look forward to becoming more comfortable with using large-scale printers.  This is the logical next step for me as a photographer.  I know the various software platforms, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, and I also have a small-scale Epson printer, but am looking forward to printing my photography on a larger scale.

CR: Do you have a favorite personal work? If so, what is it?
JS: A favorite personal work?  That’s a hard question to answer.  There are past pieces I am looking to right now which help me to resolve the direction of my current work, such as Amplitude, Gravity Afternoon, and A Most Likely Outcome, but I can’t necessarily point to a personal favorite.  I avoid being formulaic with the work, and essentially I start anew every day.  Sometimes it is hard to maintain this ‘blank slate’ of the mind, and that is when the older work will provide a touchstone for going forward.

CR: Who’s blowing your mind right now?
JS: Lately I’ve been thinking about the work of Martin Kippenberger.  I saw a retrospective of his work at Tate Modern a few years ago, and amazingly, I’m still thinking about it.  At once a mad visionary and contemplative social philosopher, he incorporates the entire world into his work with his remarkable thematic and stylistic range.

CR: What’s in heavy rotation on your iTunes, or CD player, tape deck, record player, etc?
JS: I’m looking up my playlist now, and just to give you some sense of it, I shall list the songs beginning with the letter ‘S’.  So I have San Francisco (Brett Dennen), Satellite (Bill Frisell and Petra Hayden), Savane (Ali Farka Toure), Say Yes (Elliott Smith), Saye Mogo Bana (Issa Bagayogo), Senegal Fast-food (Amadou and Mariam), Something (The Beatles), Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano (Schubert), Sous Le Ciel de Paris (Edith Piaf), Stay Up Late (Talking Heads), and Swept Away (The Avett Brothers).  This list is pretty indicative of where my taste goes, which is pretty much everywhere.

CR: What’s next for you?
JS: I ask myself this question all the time, and it seems I never answer it correctly.  I can only hazard a wild guess.  I’ll complete a project of printed photographs during my residency, for one thing.  I’ll finish the large-scale painting in my studio, which at the moment feels like it’s all over the map, and needs a bit of reigning in.  Speaking of maps, I’ll be doing research for a class called Personal Mapmaking which I’ll be teaching in the fall, and I’ll also be doing some small-scale paintings for a group show in Southern California. Now that I’ve enumerated my immediate projects, I realize that, as usual, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

Mechanism of a Passing Moment, 2008

Gravity Afternoon, 2007

A Most Likely Outcome, 2008

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 6, 2009 9:21 am

    I hear voices. Yes, I know that is a sign of insanity but voices and music are what I hear when I view this artist’s work and it drives me crazy – in a good way. Each piece is like a place I can visit and they all have their own music. I would love to see a city designed by this artist, or a theme park or sensorium. Maybe someday we’ll be lucky enough to see those things and more.

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