My sculpture, installation, drawings and events celebrate collaboration, labor, and change. I often use ephemeral materials to call attention to our mortality and be low impact to a site. Pre-covid, I worked collaboratively with passersby to create large drawings in bird seed on the ground. As people entered the drawing, their attention would either add or erase the created patterns and images. This notion of flux and the possible unknown influence of one person on a grand scale is what intrigues me about collaborative and temporary work. I passively ask for all involved to be steward of a shared creation.
In my sculptures and video works, family dynamics and familiar connections become material. Powdered chalk patterns on the ground become as vibrant, colorful, fragile and exposed as my grandmother in a nursing home during the pandemic. A cast glass preemie onesie in a locked cabinet speaks to the isolation of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit parent. With my objects and events I hope to inspire viewers and participants to embrace the present moment and attend to caretaking for themselves, each other and our world.
Bull in a China Shop, a cast-glass onesie from my firstborn visible inside a locked cabinet, embodies my jarring introduction to parenthood in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The social isolation required by lockdown highlighted these same emotions.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jessica Witte’s sculpture, installation, drawings and events celebrate collaboration, labor, and change. She is a passionate advocate for accessibility and empowerment through art, whether leading a workshop or creating large-scale temporary, shifting drawings on the ground with others, even passersby. Seed the Change, her 400-foot-long temporary drawing in birdseed with the public on the Arch Riverfront was nationally recognized by the juried Public Art Network Year in Review 2017. Her award-winning Birdseed Doilies project has been featured online by Stylus (London),Chicago Art Magazine, and St. Louis Public Radio.
Her work has been featured in over fifty exhibitions at such venues as San Diego Art Institute, the Textile Center (Minneapolis, MN), Museum of Nebraska Art (Kearney, NE), Rockford Art Museum (Rockford, IL), Maas Gallery (Purchase, NY), Athens Institute of Contemporary Art (Athens, GA), and WomanMade Gallery(Chicago, IL). Most recently her work is included in Walk with Us at the Rochester Art Center in Rochester, Minnesota. Witte earned her Sculpture MFA from Northern Illinois University (NIU), with additional coursework in Printmaking. In Illinois, she worked as Coordinator of Education and Marketing at the NIU Art Museum, Nehring Gallery director and a college art instructor. She relocated to St. Louis where she chaired the City of Creve Coeur’s Art Committee, and was a founding member of their Public Art Task Force. After a decade of volunteer work while caring for her family, she now continues to teach at St. Charles Community College and Maryville University.
© Jessica Witte