Jess is a contemporary artist from Black Mountain, NC who works primarily with wool as her sculptural medium. She received her BFA from Warren Wilson College and is currently working on her MFA at Georgia State University. Along with making exhibition work she loves running her craft fair business, Heart Felt Designs, attending residencies and teaching workshops.
Jess explains her work by saying, “My medium of choice is wool, and my work combines the traditional craft of needle felting and figurative sculpture. Needle felting is a process in which I roll up wool and then by stabbing it with a barbed needle I force the fibers to lock together. The denser the wool gets with each poke of the needle, the more detail I get. I think of wool as being similar to clay in that I can add and subtract freely as well as bend and mold with a felting needle. Wools ability to appear hard can trick the viewer into questioning the medium. At first glance, a piece may appear to be made of stone or even paper. Using wool allows me to create a strong, soft structure while providing a warm and neutral surface onto which a viewer can project a narrative or emotional response. My creating process tends to begin intuitively. Like many artists, observing humanity and reflecting on my own life influences me; the subject and voice tends to come later. My previous work has been a way for me to process my own personal growth, trauma I experienced as a child, and self-image. In my past work I took a more abstract approach to cultivate concepts in transition to a sculptural practice. For example the repetitive craters in two of the works illustrate the impact of trauma that compromises the integrity of a “thick skin”. Craters and folded patterns in the surface of the works illustrate the chaos caused by traumatic experiences that influence self-image. The majority of the figures and forms have proportions based on my own measurements and function as self-portraits.”