My work is an inquiry into materiality: what makes up the objects that surround us as well as the composition of the natural world. I am interested in how parts combine to create a whole and the intricacies of shape and texture found in the world on every scale. In treating everyday objects as raw material to sculpt, I practice a form of conceptual alchemy: through physically manipulating these objects their meanings become transmuted. Each piece is a direct response to material—a subversion of the meanings associated with it, and a reference to the life cycle of objects through time.
CIRCULATION - Coiled strips of book pages hint at the material connection between books and the wood pulp used to make them —a reminder of the circular life-cycle of materials and the connection between the natural and man-made worlds.
WAVE - Exhibiting fluid movement and serene elegance, the pieces in the Wave series are designed to evoke feelings contrary to those normally associated with the material from which they are carved: PVC pipes. Each pipe has been cut and sanded to create ripples of light and shadow across the face of the waves. In the larger pieces, the waves grow larger toward the center of the piece, amplifying the sense of motion.
IMMUTABLE ICE - This series began on a beach in Iceland littered with pieces of glacial ice. The ice pieces appear regularly as a nearby glacier calves off chunks that float in the ocean, melting into extraordinary shapes until they are washed ashore and later washed away in the tide. Each day unique shapes are created as the ocean carves the ice, and each day these beautiful natural sculptures melt out of existence. Immutable Ice is my attempt to preserve the ephemeral beauty of these fleeting forms by carving them in marble, lasting and immutable. This effort is a gesture: an evocation of a moment; a desire to preserve that which cannot be saved.
READING OUR REMAINS is an ongoing collection of altered books, each piece inspired by nature and the ever-changing natural world. The collection began as an exploration in obscuring text: creating pieces in which visual form became the subject to be read. This process eventually evolved into a meditation upon erosion and decay and the preservation of culture through time. Inspired by fossils, geological specimens, and organisms of all kinds, these books have been re-formed into objects that seem better suited to a natural history museum than a library. Viewing them has also become a new experience: we are reading and studying ourselves, the specimens we are, and the specimens we might leave behind.
Jessica Drenk is an American artist raised in Montana, where she developed an appreciation for the natural world that remains an important inspiration to her artwork today. Tactile and textural, her sculptures highlight the chaos and beauty that can be found in simple materials. Drenk’s work is also influenced by systems of information and the impulse to develop an encyclopedic understanding of the world.
Drenk’s work can be found internationally in private collections, as well as corporate and university collections within the US. Drenk has been the recipient of several awards, including an Artist Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and the International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. Her work has been pictured in Sculpture, Interior Design, and Curve magazines, as well as The Workshop Guide to Ceramics. Her work has recently become a part of the Fidelity art collection and the Yale University Art Gallery.
Drenk has an MFA in 3D Art from the University of Arizona and a bachelor’s degree from Pomona College where she was an art major. A working artist since 2007, Drenk’s home and studio are currently in Florida.