Jessica Jackson Hutchins

Selected works by Jessica Jackson Hutchins

Jessica Jackson Hutchins
Couch For A Long Time


Couch, newspaper, ceramic

73.7 x 193 x 90.2 cm

The title of Couch for a Long Time, Jessica Jackson Hutchins’ mixed media sculpture, implies a kind of indolence, a suggestion of idling, and the colour-streaked ceramic pots and sculptures seem to sit on the receiving cushions of their newspaper- clad couch like lazy characters in front of an absent TV. The physicality of the ceramic pieces’ forms – their bone- or flesh-coloured glazed surfaces, their bottom- heavy fatness – invokes the human body; even the couch itself, its cushions bulging like tongues in reaction to its occupants, has a bodily fatness, a subservience to gravity. By contrast, the couch’s surface, covered with newspapers, implies a different temporal idea: the speed of a news story, its sudden irrelevance. That the newspaper clippings repeatedly refer to the then-incumbent President Obama gives these parallel speeds added poignancy. Differing rates of change – the ceramic pieces, protected by a sheen of glaze, will remain intact for as long as they’re carefully held; both the material and the content of the newspapers become dated almost immediately after they’re printed – gives the title additional meaning. Obama became a vessel for certain ideas of optimistic change after the Bush presidency; debatably, those ideas have dated, even lost their lustre. The couch, too, accrues meaning by association: once in Hutchins’ childhood home, its newspaper covering is a kind of protection, as though the room around it were being painted. That, and the preservation implied by the vessels, gives Hutchins’ piece the gravitas of a domestic monument, to be remembered – with a kind of sad hope – for “a long time”.

Jessica Jackson Hutchins


Table, linen, paper maché and ceramic

134 x 144.1 x 136.5 cm
Jessica Jackson Hutchins
Still Life: Chair, Bowl and Vase


Chair, plaster, collage and salt-fired ceramics

109.2 x 91.4 x 78.7 cm
Jessica Jackson Hutchins
Loveseat and Bowls


Loveseat, plaster, fabric, and ceramics

156.2 x 105 x 133.4 cm
Jessica Jackson Hutchins


Couch, ink, spray paint, charcoal dust, hydrocal, ceramic

124.5 x 178 x 107 cm

Text by Ben Street



This summer, the Portland, Oregon – and New York–based sculptor Jessica Jackson Hutchins is participating in several group exhibitions, including “Dirt on Delight: Impulses That Form Clay,” which originated at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia and is at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis until November 29, and “Bent,” a three-person show at the Oregon College of Art and Craft on view until August 23. Here, Hutchins talks about her practice.

I’ve been making a lot of work from my furniture lately, just pulling it out of my house. Two sculptures in “Bent” are created from chairs that were in my kitchen. They were worn out, and their indentations readily invited the weight of ceramic. For Velvet Hand, I sewed some old velvet pants together to hold a pot that hovers over the indentation of the seat; it looks as if some barely sympathetic hand of God holds it there. In the other, a blue ceramic object nestles in the dip of the chair, which is decorated with a big sunflower. The sculpture resembles a landscape: the blue vase driving into an optimistic sunflower distance. I made it soon after Obama was elected and titled it And it feels great, which is a line from one of my husband’s songs.

There are also two ceramic vessels that I’ve repaired or improved with fabric, including one with denim, which I love. These vessels might ultimately get incorporated into a large table sculpture I’m working on. I’m carving into a big, wooden table from my kitchen with power tools and making large woodcut prints from it. Some of these prints have collage elements, including one in Small A Projects’ rogue summer show in Greenwich, New York.
I use common and simple objects because they can act as nouns. Strung together, they resonate like catchy song lyrics: chair, bowl, pants. They are also weird together, and loving, too. Sometimes the materials look old or crappy and that gives the sculptures a sense of urgency. They have a “by any means necessary” or punk sensibility. I don’t think the sculptures would be very interesting if they didn’t also possess disruptive qualities, if they weren’t tough and insistent. I’m not attached to dilapidation for its own sake. It’s just the way things look when they are really part of the world. They’re not slick and pristine.



By Fufkin Vollmayer
The Portland Tribune, Sep 25, 2007

Sculptor Jessica Jackson Hutchins says there's value in bringing the outside in and including work from other places in the city's art scene.

"There's too much emphasis on keeping art regional - it's a much richer cross section to mix it up," says Jessica Jackson Hutchins, a 36-year-old sculptor who lives in Portland.

She touches on a debate among visual artists in Portland about whether it should remain a strictly regional - that is, local - arts venue, or whether, as it expands, other artists from outside the state will be part of Portland's emerging gallery and art festival scene.

"It's a favor to Portland to bring people other artists," Hutchins says, referring to two Portland festivals, the Time-Based Art Festival and the Affair at the Jupiter, that include artists from farther afield. "It's ludicrous to think that New Yorkers show only New Yorker art."

Of the "us vs. them" tension among Portland artists, Hutchins concedes that "the art world is focused in New York, that's true, but at the same time, it's opening up; there's all these art fairs that are paying more attention to regional scenes and galleries."

She should know. After receiving her master's degree in fine arts from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999, Hutchins was awarded a fellowship in New York. She says, "I had a free studio in Tribeca for one year. I paid no rent, it was gorgeous."

The fellowship launched Hutchins' career there. She still has her dealer and gallery in New York but moved in 2005 to Portland, where she lives with her husband (she married local musician Stephen Malkmus last year) and daughter.

In addition to having her work shown in art galleries and at universities, Hutchins has lectured throughout the U.S. Locally, her work has been featured at Small A Projects and the exhibition space at Reed College's library.