Terra Firma, by Michael Solender
Published in July 2014 in Lake Norman Magazine and the Charlotte Observer
By 8 a.m. most days Jessica Singerman has already logged in three solid hours of painting, a morning ritual she began nearly two years ago after her son, Noah, was born. Quietly working in her garage home studio, Singerman’s solitude is punctuated only by the morning chatter of NPR. The nearby baby monitor advises her when her little guy is ready to start his day.
“This is a new beginning for me,” Singerman says of her daily work routine. “Making work every day is what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s spiritual and how I need to connect with being an artist while balancing time with being a mom.”
Singerman’s approach to her work and her outlook on life brings a broad perspective as a product of a bicultural upbringing. Her mother is French and her father is American. She grew up in Davidson where her dad taught French at Davidson College. His stints leading exchange and foreign study programs, found Singerman spending entire school years in France while growing up.
She knew at a very young age she wanted to be an artist. She received her undergraduate degree in studio art from William & Mary in Williamsburg and her MFA in painting at the University of Delaware where she also served on the faculty. Singerman also taught drawing and computer graphic art at Salem College in New Jersey. Though away for some years from academia, she sees herself returning to teaching in the future.
“Being in a place is different than travelling there,” said Singerman, who noted that the “rootlessness” of her bicultural upbringing has been a great influence on her work. “Sense of place is something I’m acutely aware of and has spurred me to find a greater sense of connection with the land around me.”
Singerman describes her most recent work as abstract land paintings. She’s careful and deliberate in differentiating them from landscapes.
“Landscapes infer a ‘window’ on a scene that’s being viewed,” said Singerman. “Conversely ‘land’ evokes for me an integration of me being part of the work, a feeling, it’s really a verb. I’m not viewing what I’m painting, it’s part of me and I’m part of it. I connect in a similar way when I’m cycling, it’s visceral. It feels corporal.”
At 34, Singerman has strung together a number of life experiences to bring her creative talent onto the canvas. She’s studied in Italy, taught drawing to students barely her junior, lived and worked in Australia, and led guided bicycle tours throughout Europe and back country roads throughout the U.S.
Her work offers explosions of color, form and light conjuring imagery of motion and depth. Upon close inspection, viewers may find figurative imagery, elements not present by accident.
“I often work figurative components into my work,” said Singerman, whose process involves building up the base of canvas with acrylic and then moving into oil paint. “I don’t like to over think it, I like to let go when I paint and see what comes out.”