I was first introduced to the lovely Jessica Robinette months ago when she sent me a friendly message asking for information about my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. She was planning on moving here from Kansas City, Missouri to pursue her MFA at the University of Cincinnati — which just so happened to be my Alma Mater! I could tell right from the start that Jessica was a genuinely kind and creative soul. Although we haven’t gotten a chance to meet in person yet, I know we will get along wonderfully when we finally do! As for her work, it’s simply beautiful. It is delicate and thoughtful and has this warmth to it that makes you really stop and take notice.
Jessica was gracious enough to sit down and answer some questions for me about her photography and her plans for the future. For more information, check out her portfolio website or visit her blog to see her latest work. I hope you enjoy!
Tell me a little bit about yourself. (Where are you from? Where are you currently living? What did/are you going to school for?)
Until recently, I lived in (beautiful!) Kansas City, Missouri. I received a BA in 2010 and recently got married. My husband and I just moved to Cincinnati because I’m beginning an MFA program here in the fall.
How did you become interested in being an artist? What inspired you to pursue this career path?
I credit a lot of my path to good mentors. Back in high school I was lucky enough to have an art teacher who sort of let me have free reign and she encouraged me to continue with art. I knew that it made me happier than anything else, and that was enough for me. In college I had a professor who clarified everything for me. As silly as it sounds, I looked up to her and wanted the life (of an artist) that she had. I have never looked back and I’m grateful that I’ve always felt deeply and honestly that this is the path for me.
What material(s) do you use to create your pieces? Why do you choose this medium?
In school I mostly took photographs, but I was careful to learn what I could about printmaking, drawing and painting because I knew that I wanted my future in art to be interdisciplinary. My recent work is still rooted in photography but most pieces get manipulated with string, ink, paint and/or additional paper.
I use photos because I’m interested in their realism and also the romanticism that photographs can evoke. The photos show what it is that I see…but I also like the work to be abstracted and sometimes the photographs are “too real” so I take it back a little with the abstraction. I also like the additional process that the sewing, collaging and painting takes. Sometimes a photograph lacks process.
Describe your artwork.
I’m very interested in human emotion and relationships. For years I have been making work about personal places (specifically the home) and how people connect with their most private and treasured spaces.
My work is often suggestive but not specific. I want the pieces to feel like a memory, a familiar place the viewer has been before. It’s all about the emotional connection and stimulating some sort of comfortable feeling.
What inspires you?
Other people’s work spaces, random and simple connections with strangers, and watching people do what they’re passionate about.
What are some other things you enjoy doing in your free time (aside from art, of course)?
Lately I’ve been exploring Cincinnati and trying to find those hidden gems that every city has. I love going to farmer’s markets, traveling, reading and lately I’ve become interested in baking…mostly because I’m interested in eating.
Who are some of your favorite artists right now?
I spend a lot of time looking at photographs by Uta Barth and Laura Letinsky. I can’t get enough of Cy Twombly’s paintings. For things on the more conceptual side, I love Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July.
What’s your favorite thing about being an artist? What’s the most difficult thing?
Since I’m still in the early stages of my career, I haven’t had the opportunity to make art full time– until now. I’m just so excited to begin the MFA process and make art my full time job.
There are definitely times art making seems harder than it should. As an artist, I essentially run my own small business. I have to be the publicist, bookkeeper, secretary and the artist.
Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to have the time, space and money to make art. I also want to be teaching art to college students and raising a family.
If you had an entire day to do as you pleased, how would you spend it?
I would sleep in, eat Thai food for lunch, maybe visit a museum or a park and then have friends over for dinner and cocktails on our balcony.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself/your work that you think we should know?
I just want to thank you and your readers for taking the time to learn about my work! I’m always interested in connecting/collaborating with other artists and creative types—feel free to shoot me an email!