Sarofim School of Fine Arts

Jessie Cragg

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2011 B.F.A. with a focus in Painting

The goal of my work is to reclaim, re-establish, and re-invent the “low art” of sewing and stenciling by combining it with the “high art” of painting. In my exhibition Seamingly Kitsch: Sewing Gene, I incorporate craft ideas like sewing, stenciling, and rhinestoning with vivacious colors. I believe that it is imperative to abandon the social constructs of high and low art in order to create contemporary art. I draw heavily on the artists from the Pattern and Decoration Movement of the 1970s, who found it necessary to connect the history and practice of craft with their feminist stance. My interest in feminist history also stems from the inspirational women in my family and their feverish passion for painting and crafting.

Although most of the paintings are based on family connections through sewing, fashion, and pattern ideas, the painting “Tap Chance” has a slightly different origin. “Tap Chance” began by using chance aesthetics, a concept based on the Dada art movement of the 1920s. This movement questions the preconceived notion of aesthetics rooted in reason and power, redirecting the focus of aesthetics to allow chance to serve as the resolution. I incorporated chance into my work by tap dancing on a board that had blobs of paint on it, redistributing the paint with my tap shoes. The tap dance was a routine from 42nd Street, a musical in which I performed in a dance ensemble.  Once the tap dance was finished, I randomly traced some of the shapes that were made during the process - yet another chance aesthetics idea - and rearranged the shapes to create this painting. The colors are based on the bright and flashy costumes in 42nd Street.

Through the paintings, drawings, prints and installation in this exhibition, I explore the concept of personal narrative as well as female empowerment.  My crafting past serves as the proclamation of my works.cragg tap chance

IdleHandsaretheDevil'sTools