Chattanooga, TN | Painting, Mixed Media, Drawing
Jessica Wohl received her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2001 and her MFA from the University of Georgia in 2010. Originally trained as an illustrator with specialization in art history, her studio practice now includes drawing, painting, embroidery, quilting, collage, performance and installation.
Wohl’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, most recently at the Belfast Photo Festival, the Robert Mann Gallery in New York and the Zeitgeist Gallery in Nashville. Her work has also been exhibited at venues in Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, England, Finland, Norway, Italy, Hong Kong and Korea, and has recently been featured in Burnaway, Vogue and ArtNews. Her work is collected by the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, the Sprint-Nextel Corporation, the H&R Block World Headquarters, numerous private collectors and is included in the Drawing Center’s Viewing Program. She is currently an assistant professor of Art at the University of the South where she teaches Drawing and Painting.
Particularly drawn to the home and its residents, I exploit the uncanny while subverting domestic representations of perfection and happiness. I use obsession, personification and gothic overtones to convey the idea that looks can be deceiving, and I interpret the family, the posed portrait and the suburban tract home as stages where this unsettling dynamic plays out. Conceptual strategies such as repeating, simulating, concealing and mutating induce a sense of discomfort in the work. By employing tight boundaries, clean edges and sickly smiles, secret interiors are protected from the outside world.
These protective barriers are created through the use of obsessive mark making. While subtly implying that my subjects are flawed, the handmade mark in this work, including drawing, cutting and sewing, is evidence of our human condition—that is, we create our own realities and we are not as perfect as we may seem. As a timeless method of fixing and mending, I use sewing as a metaphor for “keeping it together.” This relentless need to prevent things from “ripping apart at the seams” speaks to the human need for connection. In my textile works, stained and used domestic textiles are repurposed as either vehicles for comfort or metaphors for residents and characters that dwell in the home.
Through installations that personify residential living spaces, I also explore the home as a living entity; ageing, protecting, listening, witnessing, breathing, knowing and retaining the energetic residue of those who live there, or once lived there. In a climate of foreclosed homes, abandoned neighborhoods, broken families and forgotten dreams, my work explores the still life remaining in these structures, relationships and domestic artifacts, and questions our society’s obsession with, and definition of, the American Dream.