Gallery Solo Exhibitions
Master of the Nets (2018) View Exhibition >>
Refraction in the Line of Sight (2015)
In Living Color (2013)
A trip to China last summer to teach art inspired my recent series, ‘Master of the Nets’, which I titled after the classical Chinese garden in Suzhou of the same name. First built during the Southern Song dynasty, Master of the Nets Garden is a tribute to the quiet life of a fisherman, an emblematic figure in Chinese literati culture. The fisherman embodies the Daoist ideal of living at one with nature —a solitary figure in a boat, floating on a lake. In the gardens of Suzhou, we find microcosms of the natural world, in which rocks and ponds represent mountains and lakes; the classical gardens frequently provided the inspiration for shanshui (mountain-rock) landscape painting.
This archetypal fisherman has become my emblem for the ‘Master of the Nets’ series, in which my aim has been to achieve something very personal, less conceptually based than my previous work. I imagine the fisherman throwing the nets down deep, and I too wanted to bring something unexpected up to the surface, to pull from below. The surface of the paintings is a metaphor for the rippling surface of the water, and the activity of painting is the grappling with the nets —discovering the unexpected in the process, and working with motifs that rise up to consciousness from my memory of the garden.
When the metaphorical ‘net’ and the surface of the painting merge, like pulling the fish to the water’s surface, I find the form the painting wants to take. I think about the garden itself for visual inspiration. The Master of the Nets Garden is a study in contrasts, in which light, shade, scale, space and shape are all utilized in a manner to accentuate opposing qualities. For example, thin bamboo stalks would be placed alongside a towering scholar’s rock—in this way, they act as foils to each other. I’m not necessarily looking to depict the rock and bamboo; rather, I am drawing out contrasts between colors, shapes and form. The paintings harmonize opposing qualities, yin and yang, in which form is abstracted to show the dual nature of things.
Jessica earned a BA from UC Davis and a MFA from Mills College, and also attended the Sorbonne and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She is adjunct professor in the Studio Art and Art History departments at University of San Francisco, and she’s the recipient of the Cadogan Fellowship Award, the Artadia Award in the Visual Arts Grant, and the US State Department's American Artists Abroad Program.