By Indigo del Castillo
Sculptor Jessica Harrison has forever changed how we see Victorian-era ceramic figures with her works involving ladies in fancy dresses sporting badass tattoos or their own blood and guts. In this exclusive interview, she talks more about her roots as an artist and her unique take on ceramics. [read our original posts about her sculptures here and here]
How did you discover your passion for sculpture?
When I was little I wanted to work in animation – there were quite a few great children’s tv programs on in the 80’s that were made with 3D models and I decided quite early on it looked like the best job in the world to mess around with clay all day.
Let’s talk about your grotesque ceramic ladies with severed heads and misplaced body parts. Where did you get the inspiration for this collection? What was the message you were trying to convey here?
That series is called ‘Broken’ as the pieces are made using found ceramics that I have quite literally taken a hammer and chisel to.They present an impossibly fair-skinned ‘perfect’ woman and my attraction to these works was precisely because of this image they portray of the female body – my aim was to counter it and present its opposite within itself.
This was simple to do, by breaking apart the hollow cast pieces and ‘revealing’ the interior, a standard formula in Western knowledge for making discoveries about the body. The female interior is a space still laced with taboo in a way that the male interior is not, and for me this gender bias of what is most often an invisible space in our everyday lives was a fascinating and important one to address. This series, like my other works in stone, ceramics, silicone and ink comes from exploring shared ideas about the body, unraveling shared experiences of different spaces, textures and shapes.
Do you have any memorable reactions and responses regarding the macabre ceramics?
Not really, the pieces from the ‘Broken’ series are very bland to me before I break them. I think they make more sense in their altered form.
Seeing as you’ve been into sculpture all your artistic life, how difficult was it to move into tattoo art in your series about the Victorian-era ladies with tattoos?
It wasn’t difficult as it is not something different. I’m using the tattoo in this series to explore the skin space rather than creating any tattoo art itself, which is a completely different thing. Tattooing is not a painting or a drawing onto a static plane, it is incredibly sculptural, literally threading ink into a moving surface, one that has no flat surfaces.
So although the pieces are called ‘Painted Ladies’ in reference to the old term for a tattooed woman, they in fact draw from something incredibly sculptural and active in space, the skin.
The tattoo imagery I have used is all from war-time source imagery, to recall a time before the popularity boom of the tattoo when it may be pointed more towards a particular kind of harsher life. The idea was to present opposing outer layers, contrasting skins, where masculine illustrations are intertwined with overtly over-idealized feminine costume. The viewer is presented with the question of what we are supposed to consider beautiful, which costume to believe.
How long did it take you to finish a piece?
A long time, that’s why there are only a few, and why there are unlikely to be any more!
Do you have anything you’re currently working on that we should look out for?
I have an exhibition opening at Jupiter Artland in Edinburgh this July. It’s going to be very pink…
Donate to Rick Lee Peters and his family as he continues his fight against Cancer. Please help provide him peace of mind in his final days.
Rick Lee Peters received his Masters of Fine Arts with Honors from The University of Kansas. But who needs a fancy piece of paper to notice the true talents of this man. One peek at his repertoire is a clear display of a truly wonderful, creative and talented man who our Universe is preparing to take away due to Cancer.
He began his battle about a year ago and we all had hopes that he would pull thru this routine procedure. The other side of the curtain must need some funny, bright new personalities and probably some new artwork!
As Rick prepares for a battle that his body no longer has control over, his family – his beautiful wife Jill, his son Tim and daughter Aimee, his grandchildren and a long list of loved ones and friends take comfort in being able to see and speak with Rick, and share encouraging hugs during these final days. His good humor helps everyone ease thru an extremely heartbreaking and difficult process.
Of course – with any medical battle there are costs involved. Not only the hospital and treatment bills, but cost of living expenses, final resting costs, and the stress of being able to provide for loved ones once that fateful day has come. One of Rick’s requests is to have a simple heart shaped headstone -even the most modest design is worth a mint.
Rick has provided this World with laughs, smiles, love and brightness – not only thru his amazing being but thru the beauty of his artwork. Whether you knew him in person or not – his paintings and sketches will spread a smile across your face and in your heart.
Skip the line at Starbucks and donate that $5 to someone who really matters. No amount is too small or too big. Every little bit helps. Please donate and share this fundraiser with others.
Thank you and much peace.
For donations, please visit: http://gfwd.at/1oQHJQO
By Dan Gilsdorf
A few months back I told Crash that I was having a solo show at a gallery in Portland, Oregon and he thought it would be a good idea to put together an announcement for the TAM website. I dragged my feet on it, thinking that the exhibition didn’t have anything to do with tattoos and might not be the kind of thing that many tattooers would be into. But in the end he convinced me, so at the risk of boring his readership… (more…)
Dan Gilsdorf has been tattooing since October of 1992, learning the trade in Boulder, Colorado alongside Rocky Acosta and Lance Talon. After a few rewarding years working in that town at Bolder Ink and receiving a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the University of Colorado, Dan accompanied Jerry and Jennifer to Portland in 1998 in order to open Atlas. [Video and pictures on expanded page]