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, while simultaneously masking this vulnerability to appear composed in the eyes of others.
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.
Jessica Wohl was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Growing up in two different suburban households, she was an only child, the youngest child, and the oldest child simultaneously. She 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, her current studio practice includes drawing, painting, collage, installation and performance.
Jessica's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Nashville, Finland, Norway and Italy. She has taught at The University of Georgia, Maple Woods Community College, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kansas City Art Institute. Her work is collected by the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, the Sprint-Nextel Corporation, H&R Block World Headquarters, and numerous private collectors. She currently lives in Sewanee, Tennessee where she is an Assistant Professor of Art, teaching drawing and painting at The University of the South.