april 8, 2018
Adele: Are you a cat or a dog?
Jessica: I think I’m a dog. Yeah, I feel like I’m very loyal so I feel like I would be a dog.
Ava: Any particular breed?
Jessica: No, I’m one of those people who doesn’t really know breeds that well. When I was little I always liked golden retrievers because they looked the friendliest.
Ava: They are very friendly.
Ava: Can you describe your studio practice as a party?
Jessica: As a party?
Ava: Like if it were a party, what kind of event would it be? What music are you playing?
Adele: What kind of decorations?
Jessica: I guess it would be one of those small parties where you invite your closest friends,like a low-fi dinner party where you bring your own food and gather around. I usually have something playing in the background, like a Netflix show. Lately it’s been The Office because it’s something funny in the background and I’m laughing out loud every now and then, but I can tune it out because I’ve seen so much of it. But yeah, I’d like to think of it as a low-fi dinner party because when you’re just hanging out with friends, it’s like you’re there to watch stuff but you can tune it out and just be chill. You can talk to someone or just eat. I feel like it would be like that, maybe like five people. Very low key.
Ava: I like the term ‘low-fi dinner party.’
Jessica: Yeah, not too fancy.
Adele: Knowing where you grew up and thinking about about your studio practice, I am curious as to what your definition of home is?
Ava: Does Richmond feel like home? Does Virginia Beach still feel like home?
Jessica: I think my instinct is to say home is wherever my family is. But I’ve felt like when I’m with them, I catch myself thinking, “okay, I need to get back to Richmond now.” I’ve planted this beacon here, and I always want to come back. The same thing happened when got back from Qatar. I’d travel around and be out and about and I’d think, “Okay, I need to get back to Qatar.” I feel like I set down tiny roots wherever I go. But when I’m feeling really homesick, my first instinct is to want to be where my family is, or somewhere that’s innately familiar. What really enticed me about Richmond is that a lot of things are familiar here but I’m still finding new things and new places here.
Adele: What’s something new that you’ve found recently?
Jessica: It’s usually food places. Latino Cuisine is right around the corner.
Ava: Is that good? I’ve heard it’s really good.
Jessica: Yeah, I went there to treat myself for International Women’s Day. It was pretty cute.
Jessica: They’re one of those places that looks like they run slow, like there’s not a lot of people inside. But the staff is super friendly. It kind of feels like a family business and it’s really authentic food. I really enjoyed it.
Ava: Yeah, I’ve been wanting to check that out because I’ve heard it’s really nice.
Jessica: Yeah, that’s my go-to when Foo Dog is full. I stop by Latino Cuisine.
Adele: Cooool. I’ll have to check it out.
Ava: I went to Picnic on Friday night.
Adele: What is that?
Ava: It’s on West Main. It’s like a block away from F.W. Sullivan’s.
Jessica: Oh, I know where that is.
Ava: I went there because they have outdoor seating and nobody else was around. But I did get a vegan spicy curry potato bowl and it was really good. And they do cocktails and stuff. That’s my latest Richmond discovery.
Ava: So, you’re a painter, but you’ve been deviating this year. Can you talk about your impulse to deviate from painting and what you’ve been doing instead?
Jessica: There were kind of two main reasons. The first is that it felt like I had exhausted painting. I had been painting like that for a year and I wasn’t getting anywhere so I felt like I needed to take a break for a while. This last semester was really stressful for me, so I felt like I needed to vent more than I’m used to and painting didn’t fulfill that need so I had to find another outlet. I fell into writing, and then I joined a playwriting club and they helped me and encouraged me in that scene. They helped me develop my writing and become more reflective on the processes behind being a creative person and being an artist. That’s where my show at Valet came from—The Greatest Burnout. It’s all about just trying; basically, a celebration for trying. I considered it a show for things you didn’t really want to show. I brought in a piece that didn’t really work for a crit, and then like, a painting that I had in progress but it was just a projection of it. I had an audio of R Kelly’s “The World’s Greatest” and SIA’s “The Greatest” mixed together, with more of the screencaps of the rejection letters I’d received. With those letters, I was really focusing on the language that comes with like, gently letting people down.
Ava: The gentle rejection.
Jessica: Yeah. I was really focusing on the language when I was putting together a lot of the work in that show. I think this coming one is really a showcase for all those other things that are not paintings.
Ava: Gotcha. It’s interesting that you got more into writing and playwriting. And, you’re going to go see Rent soon. And I saw those playbills up in your room.
Adele: And there’s this collection of playbills here.
Jessica: Oh, those are my roommate’s. Similar interests.