Jessica Stockholder loves altering everyday things or giving a semblance of order and cohesion to what comes at us daily as a mass of chaotic information. The finished painterly object gives us a place, where – if only for a moment – we experience the convergence of inner life with concrete physical things.”
Jessica Stockholder, who studied at Yale University where she started in the painting department but switched to sculpture, formulates the use of both media in her abstract, complex work as follows: “I didn’t stop making paintings and start making sculpture. I still make paintings, only they are also sculpture.” Stockholder uses everyday objects and commodities in her “paintings,” especially household items like plastic bowls, lamps, electrical cords, couch cushions, toasters, carpets, refrigerators, etc., assembling them into three-dimensional sculptures in which she often connects adjacent items or materials using thin layers of color.
Essential to her work are the aesthetic and formal qualities of the individual elements and the arrangement of their colors. Color becomes an almost subversive element. Stockholder, with respect to Matisse: “Matisse has clearly been an influence on me. I love color, Matisse is completely involved in color. It’s hard to articulate why color is so exciting or wonderful, but I think it can be. Also in my work I’m interested in systems—how things are organized and then how the system breaks down and becomes eccentric or quirky. How a thinking process can meander in unpredictable ways in contrast to a system that’s been planned and shared amongst people. I think Matisse’s paintings occupy that place too.“
Jessica Stockholder’s has had solo exhibitions in renowned institutions. Her works belong to major museum collections such as the Whitney Museum, New York, and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Her mid-career retrospective was shown in 2004 at the Blaffer Art Gallery, University of Houston, and in 2005 at the Weatherspoon Museum, University of North Carolina. Stockholder is this year's winner of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s “Lucelia Artist Award.” Explaining its decision, the jury stated: “Her rigorously formal abstract sculptures engage the viewer in a physical and perceptual encounter, which is at once highly evocative, yet resolutely unsentimental. Stockholder’s careful calibration of color is also crucial and distinctive element of her work. Not only does it call attention to the vivid palette of commonplace things, but also reflects and enlivens our experience of the world.”