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Jessica Bell

Posted by Kate Singleton on


A shot of Vancouver taken by the artist.

Where are you from and where do you currently live?

My family is originally from Montréal, Quebec and we moved around Canada a lot while I was growing up. I currently live on the west coast in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Jessica with There Goes The Neighbourhood 3, $400.

What medium did you start with and how has your choice of material progressed over time?

I started with drawings of all kinds and then moved to painting in high school where I stuck for a while. Bits of drawing and paper started creeping into my paintings three years ago which was also when I started making my first collages with my sewing machine because it was handy at the time. The last couple of years specifically have been a big arc for me in terms of what I am making my work out of. I have made copious amounts of collage work on paper, a lot of photographs, some digital work and, most recently, textile assemblages like these. I have only just recently come around to the fact that what I am obsessed with is the information that is inherent in different materials and how I can manipulate and use that to my advantage.

Floor of the artist's studio.

How are the pieces in this show constructed? they look like they'd be really complicated to put together.

It is very additive: I start with a piece of fabric that is very small and I build out. I put pieces together and then I take them apart in a different way. I cut the pieces up and reassemble them relentlessly.  I repeat that countless times before I conclude that the work has been 'reassembled' enough and then I stretch it over stretcher bars like preparing a canvas. I actually think these pieces are made in much same way as the paintings and collages I have made in the past, this compulsive taking apart and putting together, adding and subtracting.

Back view of the artist's textile work.

Where do you find inspiration? 

From walking places in Vancouver. But mostly from what I can see from my apartment window which is: three bus stops, four bridges, several cities, one ocean, one city park, an enormous tree and lot of geese on an average day. 

A shot of Vancouver taken by the artist.

You once told me that a vancouver native told you that you use "vancouver colors" - can you elaborate? 

I think she meant that the colours I gravitate towards can all be found somewhere on a grey scale and perhaps that they possess a kind of flatness that is hard to describe but which I think comes from a crazy atmospheric dialogue between mountains and forests and oceans all colliding with one another. In short that means 'cloud' in more forms and densities than you could ever imagine and, subsequently, what this cloud does to light here. We experience so much cloud here that when the sun is unfiltered and the light is sharp it actually hurts my eyes a little for the first while; I am so much more used to a lack of saturation. Undeniably, that preference has found its way into my typical palette. 

There Goes the Neighbourhood I, $400.

Some artists flourish in their local art communities and others find an audience online, while you seem to have both - i've been told you are pretty popular in the vancouver art scene and you also have a strong internet following. what's your experience with both communities?

This is hard to answer. It is weird for me to think that people know about my work because I spend a lot of time alone, working away and when I hang a show or put something on one of my sites, there is interaction with it that is largely invisible to me. That being said, I know I have invested a lot of energy in the last two years showing in my hometown and establishing a presence online, something you actually inspired in me. The best part about working in Vancouver are the artists and designers and architects I have got to know who are thoughtful and relentlessly active and inclusive; it feels like a growing creative network. I am equally enthused about my online community; I consistently get more inquiries about the purchase or subject of my work from new people outside of Canada than I do from within Vancouver. The Internet is amazing; I've got to do some fantastic collaborations and projects because of connections I have made on Twitter alone. The potential in presenting my work online feels limitless and that makes me work harder. 

Screenshot of Jessica's website

What's something most people don't know about you?

As of December of this past year, I have been married (to the same guy) for 10 whole years. And I've seen every season of The Bachelor. And so has my husband.

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1 comment

  • As always this is wonderful work that catches a very specific place and time.

    Heather Craig on

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