Jessica Ward's work addresses the issue of the hidden neuroses of eating disorders; a subject she herself has personally struggled with. Working exclusively with graphite and paper and infusing each piece with an edge of political commentary, Ward renderes the female form in the most intriguing ways.
As one of the artists participating in the 'Femme Fatale' show opening February 25th, we had a chat with this unique artist. Here Jessica talks about the personal issues driving her work, the symbolism behind her subjects' hair and the notoriously honest President she's related to.
As a child of an Air Force Officer, you lived and traveled the world from a very young age. Tell us about life growing up in such diverse environments. How did it energize you creatively?
I got used to change from a young age. My life is still constantly changing but the one thing that remains constant is having my art. I could always depend on drawing and use it an escape. Always being the new kid I found art was universal and helped bridge the gap in relating to people, that made it a easier to make friends everywhere I went. I was exposed to many different cultures and got to explore allot of art museums. I also love adventure and the excitement of new surroundings inspires me to create.
The majority of your work addresses the paranoia of eating disorders and often depicts female figures without control over their own bodies. Obviously, a personal narrative is at play. How has sharing such an intimate experience help you come to terms with those issues?
It keeps the issue in the fore front; being able to express your emotions visually helps give it a voice and gets it all outside your head. Nothing keeps you more honest, then sharing your inner most self with the world.
Hair plays an important role in your work as it grows from within the subjects only to be purged out. Tell us about a little more about the symbolism behind this.
In my pieces I deal with simultaneous repulsion and attraction themes. Hair is easy to hide and get lost in, so I like to depict subjects that are regressing into a place of safety. At the same time hair is always growing and changing and uncontrollable. I try to create a sense of chaos with the hair as well and when it interacts with the subjects it has a mind of it’s own that make the subjects both anxious and soothed all at the same time.
If you could hang only one artwork from art history in your home or studio, what would it be and why?
Actually, any of the many Hans Bellmer drawings. I am in love with his line work. They are filled with wavy lines of internal organs and brought to the surface in a fluid and dream like manner. His drawings are both precise, and yet so out of control, I really loose myself in them.
Tell us something about yourself we wouldn’t necessarily know.
Let’s see, I am an only child, I have visited twenty countries and attended eight schools growing up. The longest amount of time I have lived in a place of residence is five years. Also, I am related to Abraham Lincoln.
If I were to spend the day with Jessica what could I expect?
Most of the day and night is spent in the studio creating art. The other times in between I spend with my boyfriend and family and in my free time I enjoy playing video games, exercising and learning German.