LATITUDE is excited to welcome Jessica Harvey as its November Artist In Residence!
Jessica Harvey is a Chicago-based artist who explores the myths we create for ourselves and nature while trying to preserve a more desired history. Harvey received an MFA in Photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art and was awarded a Fulbright Grant to Iceland.
Harvey has attended residencies at Ox-Bow, Wassaic, MASS MoCA, ACRE, Anderson Ranch, Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, Hardesty Arts Center, The Luminary, and Vermont Studio Center. She has participated in group shows at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (Grand Rapids, MI), Johalla Projects (Chicago, IL), The Center for Contemporary Photography (Detroit, MI), and the Cranbrook Art Museum (Bloomfield Hills, MI). Recent exhibitions include shows at The Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY), Trestle Projects (Brooklyn NY), Heaven Gallery (Chicago, IL), The Luminary (St. Louis, MO), Good Weather (Little Rock, AR), and ACRE Projects (Chicago, IL).
Q & A
Projects such as “Arrows of the Dawn” and “Future Great City of the World” uncover the remnants of secret societies and failed utopian colonies -- what initially led you to these communities? How has this initial attraction changed overtime?
Both of these projects were started at different residencies in different cities. ‘Arrows of the Dawn’ was started at Byrdcliffe, a residency in Woodstock, NY and ‘Future Great City of the World’ began while I was in residence at The Luminary in St. Louis, MO. Initially, I had different projects planned at both places, but these two subjects were mentioned in passing, and when I did research on both the utopian aspect of Byrdcliffe and the impact that the Veiled Prophet (secret society) had on St. Louis, even today, I felt drawn to make work about these institutions. The more research I did, the more some of the hidden aspects of these places were revealed, things like racism, sexism, classism, and anti-Semitism were withheld from much of their common narratives. I made this work thinking about what my obligations are as an artist and how do I reveal these invisible boundaries. I consider both of these projects ongoing, and they have changed over the years based on new information I’ve found.
Can you describe any challenges or rewards in your practice of re-constructing public histories?
Histories are constantly changing depending on who has the power of narration. It’s especially rewarding for me if I’m able to reveal a new way of looking at a familiar story or place. I think it’s also important to look beyond myself and question if I am the right person to be making the work at hand.
Who are you most inspired by? Why? (Can be outside of the art world)
I’ve been looking back on the poetry of a dear friend, Donald Lev, who sadly passed away last month. His work is a mixture of humor, wit, tragedy, and absurdity. He and his wife Enid Dame had such great minds. Her poems about Lilith are especially wonderful.
I am also inspired by makers who combine historical, fictional, and personal narratives, a few include Ragnar Kjartansson, Michael Rakowitz, Sondra Perry, Jonathan Horowitz, Edra Soto, Doreen Garner, Claudia Rankine, Meriem Bennani, Cole Lu, Mike Kelley, Carrie Mae Weems, and work at The Museum of Jurassic Technology.
The natural world is pretty extraordinary as well!
Are there particular mediums or processes from your practice that you feel a strong connection to?
Since my work is project based, I tend to learn new skills based on the subject I’m working with. While there is typically always some sort of lens-based work in each project, I frequently use sculpture and sound as well. For the past year or so I’ve been using cremated remains in different ways, making silver gelatin prints that mimic constellations in addition to growing crystals with these bodily remains.
What will you be working on during your residency here at LATITUDE?
I’ll be working on a few different projects during my time at LATITUDE.
First, I’ll be scanning a series of silver gelatin prints of cremated remains from pets that belonged to my Aunt to create prints for an artist book that is a sort of family portrait.
I’ll also be scanning a collection of family photos that my Aunt gifted me before she passed away. These images belonged to her ex (someone I never knew). She thought I might be able to use them somehow, and I think it was a way to rid herself of this memory without actually severing it. After I scan the images, I will be removing the silver from the prints and re-scanning them to make prints of these ghost images.
Then I’ll be making a small photo zine of hair that I’ve found while researching different projects. In the past few years, I’ve found hair tucked in walls, in envelopes, books, and ziplock baggies. So, hair always seems to be finding me, somehow!
Finally, I’ll be making prints from the series ‘unmonumental,’ where I’ve documented the void of former confederate monuments.
So, a lot of scanning and printing!
Are there any current movies, books, magazines, or podcasts that you recommend for readers to check out?
Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
To kill the future in the present by Jennif(f)er Tamayo (from the series ‘On Civil Disobedience’ with Green Lantern Press)
This Young Monster by Charlie Fox
House Mother Normal by B.S. Johnson
A Very Funny Fellow by Donald Lev (or anything by him, really)
The Keeper exhibition catalog from the New Museum show
Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown
The Importance of Being Iceland by Eileen Myles
The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington
Lilith by Enid Dame
Snap Judgment Episode #828: Kismet (totally incredibly love story!)