JESSICA WOHL: THE PRECIOUS YEARS
The Browsing Room Gallery (Downtown Presbyterian Church) / 154 5th Ave. N. June 1, 2019 - July 26, 2019
For what seems like the entirety of my young son’s life, I’ve been in an extended period of multitasking. How to best give, take, prioritize and spend my time is an endless equation. Most of my life, and therefore this work, exists at various stages of completion. Threads are loose, fabric is wrinkled, and drawings remain unframed. It speaks to a mother’s anxiety– imagining the future in the present, where language, visions and fears are not yet fully formed, but are most certainly taking shape. I suppose that this work then, is an attempt to elevate something that shapes every move I make but doesn’t really matter much to anyone else.
These paintings and accumulations may physically appear disjointed and incongruous from one another, but they are all born from caregiving. The quilted works evoke comfort, warmth, tradition and the legacy of women’s work. A pile of carefully arranged clothes recalls folded laundry and piles waiting to be picked up. A collection of daily daycare reports makes visible the amount of care given by someone else, in my own absence. The implied passing of time subtly references a point at which my care will no longer be needed. And even the simplest gesture, a mere still life painted to take care of myself, becomes work in the service of others.
In many ways, this work is also a family portrait in the years preceding the defining moment when our son becomes aware of his religion and his race. It’s a celebration of his freedom, his innocence, the care we provide him with, and the days we have together before his inevitable awakening. The gratitude I feel for this time is immense. Overwhelming. Physically handling the clothes and fabrics found in my home, helps me hold it and touch it. Gilding allows me to preserve it. Hand quilting helps me visualize it. Collecting helps me remember it. I want to bask in this resplendent glow, hold time here forever, and live fully in these fleeting moments of mundanity.
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, and collage.
Wohl’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Museum of Design Atlanta, the Knoxville Museum of Art, 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, New Orleans, England, Finland, Norway, Italy, Hong Kong and Korea, and has recently been featured in New American Paintings, Burnaway, Vogue, Hyperallergic 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 represented by Weinberger Fine Arts in Kansas City, Missouri, and she is currently an Associate Professor of Art at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee where she teaches Drawing and Painting.