In my work I represent the figure and its environment often employing animal imagery and allegory in counterpoint to depictions of quotidian, intimate, and fraught human experiences. I seek to create work that walks a tightrope between taste and kitsch, pathos and bathos, tragedy and comedy.
My primary mediums are oil paint and resin. In my more recent work, these media are used together to represent conflicting or contrasting psychological and emotional perspectives, or opposing states of being.
Human instincts and desires fascinate me, particularly the way we tend to distort our perception and projection of them through layers of social and personal constraint and inhibition. The directness and honesty of animals’ behaviors in my work—sometimes sexual, brutal and violent, sometimes innocent, loving, and playful—brings into relief our convoluted and self-conscious psychological and emotional landscape.
Frequent themes explored in my work are the interplay of innocence, vulnerability, playfulness, and aggression, our search for connection, and our struggle with alienation.
An extension of my painting and sculpture practice, my newer work migrates the animal imagery onto the body itself—our bodies—in the form of jewelry. I use precious metals and gems in these pieces, taking the relationship between the brutal and the decorative seen elsewhere in my work to its logical extreme. The viewer becomes an integral part of the piece, as the wearer. These works depict animals of all sorts from gargoyle-like beasts to playful cats—bejeweled symbols/reminders/? of the irrepressible animal instincts and energies inside us all.
My work is intended to function as a direct communication with the viewer, or the wearer. I want it to evoke an initial response that is visceral and immediate—attraction, repulsion, recognition.
Jessica Hargreaves grew up in London England. She has a BA in French language and literature from Liverpool University as well as a BA in Fashion and Textile Design from Central Saint Martins School of Art in London.
After graduating from CSM, Hargreaves worked in fashion and illustration for companies including J Crew, Liz Claiborne, TBWA, Grey and The Martin Agency.
In 2006 Hargreaves graduated from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago with an MFA in fine art. She now lives and works in New York City.