ARTFORUM: JESSICA JACKSON HUTCHINS, JULY 2009 AS TOLD TO PATRICIA MALONEY
This summer, the Portland, Oregon â€“ and New Yorkâ€“based sculptor Jessica Jackson Hutchins is participating in several group exhibitions, including â€śDirt on Delight: Impulses That Form Clay,â€ť which originated at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia and is at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis until November 29, and â€śBent,â€ť a three-person show at the Oregon College of Art and Craft on view until August 23. Here, Hutchins talks about her practice.
Iâ€™ve been making a lot of work from my furniture lately, just pulling it out of my house. Two sculptures in â€śBentâ€ť 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 husbandâ€™s songs.
There are also two ceramic vessels that Iâ€™ve repaired or improved with fabric, including one with denim, which I love. These vessels might ultimately get incorporated into a large table sculpture Iâ€™m working on. Iâ€™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 Projectsâ€™ 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 â€śby any means necessaryâ€ť or punk sensibility. I donâ€™t think the sculptures would be very interesting if they didnâ€™t also possess disruptive qualities, if they werenâ€™t tough and insistent. Iâ€™m not attached to dilapidation for its own sake. Itâ€™s just the way things look when they are really part of the world. Theyâ€™re not slick and pristine.
BORDERS DON'T ALWAYS MATTER PROFILE : SCULPTOR JESSICA JACKSON HUTCHINS
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.