Jessica Ward's graphite renderings feature alluring temptresses who are embodiments of both beauty and beast. Exploring themes surrounding perceptions of body image, her heroines wear long locks, much like Repunzel in her locked tower, and beckon unsuspecting passerby's to rescue them from their torment. There is certainly more than meets the eye with her work as you find yourself pondering whether her subjects represent empowered free spirits or cursed lost souls.
Do you feel that there are some people who are wicked by nature or do you feel they are misunderstood?
I view wicked people as being psychopathic or having some sort of other destructive personality disorder. Not giving the wickedness a name is when it’s most misunderstood.
How do you begin conceiving work for a themed show?
It starts out as a challenge, like how can I work my style around a certain theme? It’s like a puzzle and I love figuring it out. I usually start with researching the theme and then brain storming ideas while sketching. I find some music or movies to put on while I am drawing that are along the same tone or mood of the theme for some more inspiration.
At what point during the creative process do you get the most pleasure?
During the last stretch of the drawing when I see I am about to be finished. My heart starts to race with excitement; I get shaky hands and butterflies in my stomach. Every time, I just can’t wait to share with people the finished product.
How do you stay creatively charged?
It kind of happens naturally, if I get burned out from drawing too much, I just wait a few days and take a break. I never have to wait too long though as I feel like I can’t live without drawing again and I am craving it. I am so used to sitting down and always having a pencil and paper in front of me; it feels weird when I don’t. I am compelled to create, and I just love expressing my emotions into a visually.
What would be the crowning achievement for you as an artist?
That would probably be getting a solo show at an art museum or prominent gallery.
Do you have other family members who are artistically inclined?
I am the only one that works in the visual arts.
Who are the artists that have influenced and inspired you?
Albrecht Durer, H.R. Giger, Laurie Lipton, Fuco Ueda
What fuels the images you create?
My emotions, I am bursting internally with all kinds of feelings and they only way I know how to get them out is on paper. I know it sounds cliché but pain makes the best art, this is very true for me. It’s always when I am most honest with myself and people can relate to it.
How long does it take you to create a finished piece typically?
Depending on the size of the drawing it could range anywhere from two days to three weeks or a few months.
What do you want people to take away from your work?
My hope is that they enjoy what they are looking at and to give people a chance to see things through my eyes and escape their reality. My imagery deals with simultaneous attraction and repulsion, I like teetering on the edge of positive and negative aesthetic responses. I think it’s going to stay with them longer if it stirs something up inside them.
View Jessica's work in person on February 23rd for 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' at Cella Gallery.