Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Art Space Talk: Jessica Brown

Jessica Brown is the second place winner of the 2008 Undergraduate Scholarship Competition provided by Jessica will receive a $2,000 cash scholarship from myartspace. The myartspace Art Scholarship program began in July 2008 and entries were due by December 15, 2008. $16,000 of cash scholarships are awarded to the top 3 winners in the undergraduate category and the graduate category. Entry to the competition is free as is membership to myartspace.

Jessica has stated the following about her art, “I believe in the off-kilter, the beauty of the asymmetrical, and the balance of opposition. I revel in the surprising, messy and often humorous nature of life. My works are inspired by the question marks surrounding cultural dualities such as mind/body, man/nature, and self/other. Whether with painting, performance, or installations my aim is to stimulate introspective dialogue in my viewer and expand their intrigue of the absurdities of life.”

Catherine McCormack-Skiba, the founder of myartspace and CEO noted, “We had entries to the scholarship program from students at over 1,200 colleges and universities. The unbridled spirit and creativity from this group is quite impressive. While the top winners receive their recognition and award money, virtually all the submissions were of top-notch quality. We applaud the young contemporary artists in school today. Their contribution to the fine art world will be felt for decades to come. We are so excited from this first scholarship program we will be launching our 2009 scholarship program later this year and hope to see more than double the participation. Myartspace remains focused on improving the lives and careers of its community members.”

For more information about the myartspace Art Scholarship program and 2008 winners visit,

Reprise, Collaboration with Jsun. Acrylic paint spray paint, Carharts and collage on glass.

Brian Sherwin: Jessica, you are one of three winners of the undergraduate art scholarship competition provided by the artist social network As you know the scholarship is intended for students who exhibit exceptional artistic excellence in their chosen medium and is to be used in order to further education in art. Can you describe how you felt entering the competition and your reaction to finding out that you had won?

Jessica Brown: This was a great opportunity for someone living in a pretty secluded place, such as Alaska, to get my art out there. I am a little shocked that I won a place in the competition because I know how many talented artists entered. Just by participating I feel more connected to the outside, let alone winning!

Controlling Giants by Jessica Brown

BS: Can you tell us about your academic background in art. I understand that you are currently studying at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Do you have any influential instructors or fellow students that you would like to mention?
JB: I am almost finished with my BA in Art from the University of Alaska Anchorage, which about sums up my academic background in art. UAA is pretty small and often lacking in equipment and staff for the arts, so my schooling has been mostly a "do-it-yourself" education. This has become more of a blessing than a hindrance to me when I think about it now though because I have been able to figure things out on my own, and come up with innovated ways to get things to work.

I'd say the most important aspect of my academic education are my peers. I am extremely lucky to have access to other innovated talented artists at UAA who are just as dedicated to making things work as I am. Jsun Parizo, Ruby Kennel, Craig Updegrove, and Alisha Silverstein are just four of the many extremely motivated and talented artists that I have been lucky enough to collaborate with on multiple occasions.

Another great thing about growing up in a place where art is less than adequately funded is that I have had the opportunity as an undergraduate to organize shows and performances at some really great galleries like the MTS Gallery and Out North. If you are doing something different, or something at all, people will notice in a place like Anchorage, which has given me, and others like myself, a great opportunity to experiment and learn.

BS: Concerning your art you have stated the following, "I believe in the off-kilter, the beauty of the asymmetrical, and the balance of opposition. I revel in the surprising, messy and often humorous nature of life.". Can you go into further detail about that? Tell us more about the thoughts behind your art…

JB: I think that life is grand and fantastical and messy and confusing all at once. Most of the time I feel like I am going with the flow, but sometimes I feel like a manifestor. Leaving a little bit up to chance and showcasing the natural oddities that I find feels natural to me. For example, we can put a road over the frozen tundra up here, but inevitably in a year or so the frost heaves will flex the asphalt to extremes and cause it to crack. Life is messy but somehow balanced and predictable. I look at my art this way as well, I am inspired by contradictions and absurdities and try to display them the best I can.

Controlling Giants #2 by Jessica Brown

BS: Can you discuss some of the methods or techniques that you utilize?

JB: My process is an involuntary cerebral one. My work is inspired by everyday questions that I run into. The way my brain works is to push these everyday questions into categories under larger questions. For example, some of my work is about animal cruelty, which I place under the duality of human and other; we can rationalize harming things other than us. Then I get thinking about that larger idea and stretch it over other circumstances where I think it fits. This process usually gets me started on a body of work, but as I am dedicated to being open to chance and happy accidents as well during its execution.

I start off my paintings by taking a trip to the junkyard and getting old windows, doors, wood, and other pieces of junk. I get the surfaces and the pieces for everything ahead of time and kind of sit around them in the studio while I work until their place makes sense. I use mostly oil paint, beeswax and collage in my paintings. I love texture and build up the surfaces of my paintings for a while before adding images on top of them.
BS: What about influences? Are you influenced by any specific artist or art movements?

JB: I am inspired greatly by Bacon, Rauschenberg, Jenny Saville, Andre Breton, and the list goes on. My heart is really drawn to outside artists and folk artists like Adolf Wolfli and Dr. Evermore who have created worlds with their art.
Match Book, altered book, ink and matches

BS: Can you discuss the art you decided to enter into the competition. In your opinion, why do those specific works reflect your growth as an artist?

JB: Those works are all successes to me. When I look at a piece and either have no questions, or very few, and it relays the message I intended, then it is successful. I think that my scholarship portfolio is a good representation of my entire body of paintings.

BS: In your opinion, how is the internet changing the landscape of the art world, so to speak. Obviously artists today have more opportunities than they had before the advent of the World Wide Web. What your thoughts on this?

JB: I am not sure about the continental US but I know that living in Alaska, the Web has expanded my artistic landscape as far as the breadth of contacts that I can make. I embrace online networking like MyArtSpace with open arms! I think that it is a great grassroots effort in getting artists motivated to rub virtual elbows with other talented artists that may be across the world. Very exciting.

Perfect Match, oil pastels, oil paint and spray paint on canvas

BS: What are your future plans as far as your art is concerned?
JB: Only two weeks ago I would have said that I would be going directly to graduate school to further my education, and decide my next step from there. In two weeks a lot can happen…now I am the co-owner of the restaurant that I have been working at for the past two years. My plans are now more rooted in Alaska, pushing my graduate school studies to more of a 5-year goal. So until then I will be making and participating in art every chance I get. I am currently working on a new body of work that is a little more sculpturally oriented than I have done before.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?

JB: I would just like to say that I am thrilled to have my hard work recognized! Thank you for the wonderful competition.

You can learn more about Jessica Brown by visiting her website-- Jessica Brown is a member of the community--

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange (NYAXE)

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