Jessica Jackson Hutchins
Reason to Be, 2017
Decommissioned bus shelter, stained glass, plywood
94 x 107 x 58 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York and Aspen
Jessica Jackson Hutchins is known for commingling vastly different art materials and processes. Paintings are woven with torn bed sheets, sofas are colonized by giant ceramic “figures”. She makes monotype prints off her furniture, slathering fabric and wood with paint. When she lays paper atop the liquid, pulling off a sheet that is blotchy but with the ghost texture of the furniture, it’s as if the artist is conducting forensic research on the object’s past. By combining found and created objects, Hutchins acknowledges the process of influence and appropriation as we live in a world with objects made by other, mostly anonymous human beings, with their own hopes and dreams.
The artist has recently added hand-cast colored glass to her found furniture. In Western art history, stained glass is primarily associated with Gothic cathedrals, and the architectural innovations that made soaring shafts of light in homage to the Creator possible. Stained glass is also found in fancy homes and public buildings of a certain era, decorative enough to enliven a dark hallway without making carpets fade. Hutchins goes beyond the home in her work Reason to Be, 2017. A decommissioned bus shelter, a ubiquitous if invisible piece of street furniture, might suggest the camaraderie of seeing the same riders, day after day, or the ride home after a tough day at work. To these mundane associations the artist adds her own decorative flourishes, a colorful ceiling and side walls, with word fragments that evoke songs, or memos, or advertising for some unknown product.
At the center of the piece is a hammock for one. Passersby can escape the heat of the day, or the claustrophobia of their office, or the weight of life. As visitors gently sway with the earth, a glittering shade is thrown upon them by the artist’s colorful stained glass.
Hutchins is interested in the social construction of meaning, and in this piece, she gives participants a brief escape from the fast pace of downtown’s business environment. Each participant has a place to rest, perhaps to dream. Her work embraces issues of public citizenship and personal spirituality.
Hutchins was born in Chicago in 1971 and currently lives and works in Portland. She received her MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999, and in 1994 received her BA in Art History from Oberlin College, Ohio. She has been showing nationally and internationally since 1996. Recent one-person exhibitions have been held at: Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Connecticut; Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio; the Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing; the Hepworth Wakefield Museum, United Kingdom; Centre Pasq/art, Kunsthaus Centre D’art, Switzerland; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art; in the Portland 2016 Biennial; the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft; Wave Hill, Bronx, New York; the Fondazione GIULIANI, Rome; the Museen Haus Lange Haus Esters, Krefeld, Germany; the Highline, New York; the 55th Venice Biennale, 2013; the 11th Biennale de Lyon, 2011; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Her work will be included in Phaidon’s up-coming survey Vitamin C: Clay and Ceramic in Contemporary Art.