HappeningsCLT: Describe yourself in three words.
Jessica Singerman: empathetic, obsessive, driven
HCLT: When did you realize you were an artist?
JS: While I’ve always made things, it wasn’t until the birth of my son five years ago that I understood the importance of making work consistently. In that time I basically went from being a highly trained hobbyist to being a professional artist.
In college and graduate school, I painted and drew all the time, but after grad school I had a hard time figuring out what to do and I painted sporadically. Two months into motherhood, I realized I was losing my sense of self, and the most obvious way for me to regain it was to make work every single day. I started making little drawings and paintings, small projects that I could finish in one sitting. We lived in Australia at the time, and I had very few materials with me. I kept a small box of watercolors and drawing materials on the dining room table, and would pull them out to work as soon as my son would go down for a nap.
When we moved back Stateside, I was eventually able to get sizeable studio space and my work subsequently grew in scale. I now understand that art comes from working regularly rather than waiting for inspiration to strike. I learned that I’m a better version of myself when I am sustaining a creative practice.
HCLT: Who or what inspires you artistically?
JS: There are so many things that motivate me to work and artists whose work inspires me. Richard Diebenkorn and the Bay Area Figurative Artists of the 1950’s and 60’s, Amy Sillman and Cy Twombly are my art heroes. Mary Oliver’s poetry, the way she writes about nature and about the human experience resonates with me. As far as the what, the outdoors, specifically riding bikes, hiking, and running are what fuel my work most directly. My experience outside – the light, colors, weather, seasons, the feel of the air – all of these sensations play into my work.
HCLT: Tell us about your current body of work.
JS: My paintings are abstract with references to nature: mountains, forests, fields, and big skies are conjured through layers of shape and line in vivid color. For my large pieces on canvas and panel, I use oil and acrylic paint. With smaller works on paper, I use a variety of media: watercolor, graphite, ink, and collage for example. My work is inspired by the poetry of nature: color and light in the landscape, seasons, and the passing of time.
HCLT: What do you think is the most valuable art experience in the Carolinas right now?
JS: The community of artists in the Carolinas is fantastic. It’s a hard-working, supportive bunch, and I’m fortunate to be part of such a vibrant community of people.
Since I now live in Winston-Salem, I particularly enjoy visiting the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, an incredible resource. They curate inspiring and thought-provoking exhibits, and admission is free. The grounds and trails around the museum are open to the public. The center also generously allows the local cycling community to run a series of races each fall. This is pretty amazing considering that we mark trails and put up course tape all over the grounds once a week for an entire month.
HCLT: What is your number one art piece/place/event in this area?
JS: Reynolda House and Gardens, also in Winston-Salem: Not only do they bring in fabulous exhibits, but the gardens and walking trails are always open and feel like a respite from the city. Full of orchids, succulents, herbs, and all sorts of other colorful plants, the greenhouse there is dare I say it, magical.
JS: I always have a big stack of books on the nightstand and on the floor by the bed. Currently I’m working my way through Roar, a sports physiology book for female athletes by Dr. Stacy Sims, Mary Oliver’s Upstream, The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair, and Ann Powers’ Good Booty, on sex, race, and music in America. There’s also another stack of books I’m rereading to write a blog post.
HCLT: Best meal in the Charlotte area?
JS: I grew up in Davidson, and the Soda Shop holds a special place in my heart because I got some of my first taste of freedom there. I was allowed to walk there with friends sometimes after elementary school, and it made me feel like a “big kid.” Also, their “Big O” drink is delicious.
You can see my work at Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art and on my website www.jessicasingerman.com. In addition to showing my artwork, I write a blog where I share art musings: tips for artists, the stories behind my work, and other art-related posts. You can also follow me on Instagram @jessicasingermanfineart and Facebook @jessicasingermanfineart
HCLT: What is up next?
In Charlotte, my paintings will be exhibited at Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art’s March Invitational, opening on March 2nd. You can find out more at www.eldergalleryclt.com, Instagram @elder_gallery_clt, and Facebook @eldergalleryclt