Artist at Work: A Profile of Jessica Levine
WHO: Jessica Levine, based currently in Lewisburg, W.Va.
WHAT: Levine describes herself as “an Appalachian contemporary environmental artist. I am really inspired by nature and particularly our region of Appalachia, because that’s where I’ve lived most of my life. I’m very drawn to undulating surfaces – ‘undulation’ is a big word for me. I’m really a contemporary artist. My influences are many and drawn from many sources. As much as I am inspired by forms from nature, I’m also really interested in popular culture. We make a distinction between fine art and everyday stuff. And I’m not so clear about what’s what. Obviously, we’re really influenced by television, consumer goods, the stuff that’s in our everyday life – most of which is manufactured by machines. So mass quantities are made of things, as opposed to the hand-made object. I think they’re both interesting – but interesting in really different ways.”
THE DETAILS: Changes are afoot for Levine. “I’m in a transitional moment, right now,” she says. “I have been working as an artist and integrating environmental education into my work in a number of different ways for the last 15 years, at least. And that is a really important piece to me. That is combined with doing community artwork, which is something I have been doing for the last many years. Mostly focused on that although I’m shifting away from that right now.”
Later this year, she’ll head to Plymouth, New Hampshire, to study with contemporary sculptor Phil Lonegrin for four months at Plymouth State University. “I will study principles of turning ideas into objects and technical concrete casting skills. I am planning to take the next two years to focus soley on sculpture. I have been casting for many years, but I’m going to focus on three-dimensional work.
INFLUENCES: After being asked who and what were her influences, Levine thought about it and then e-mail the following entertaining list:
Auden and Breughel
The abstract expressionists ( Clement Greenberg led a class critique at PAFA and singled out my work )
Asian art, religious iconography, haiku
The old masters
The Rocky and Bulwinkle Show, with a special interest in Boris and Natasha.
Hummel figurines and their ilk
Native American stories
Motherwell and Jasper Johns