Finding More In The Mundane

I love the surprises that reveal themselves through focused observation. There is so much possibility in the mundane! It is all about the lens through which we see- we have so many at our disposal!

Jessica Maffia is a visual artist born and raised in New York City. Her art seeks the poetry in the mundane. She is excited by “the everyday” and honors the overlooked. She has been exhibiting her work throughout the US since 2009. Jessica exhibited 19 of her large, photorealistic pencil drawings of cracks and residue on walls during her solo exhibition at Denise Bibro Fine Art in September 2015. Her work was featured on the cover of Fabio Gironi's philosophy book Naturalizing Badiou: Mathematical Ontology and Structural Realism and several of her drawings can be found in the flat files of Pierogi Gallery in downtown Manhattan. Jessica has been awarded 6 artist residency fellowships since 2014 at the Byrdcliffe Art Colony, Brush Creek Artist retreat, New York Mills Arts Retreat, 2 fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center, and she looks forward to attending the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Artist Residency in the fall of 2016 for 3 months. In June 2016 Jessica was the first recipient of a grant from the Hells Kitchen Foundation. She currently has 6 drawings on exhibition in the Bjorn Bjornnsen interior designer showroom at 50 Riverside Blvd and will be exhibiting work at the Art Southhampton fair starting July 7th. 

What influenced you to become a fine artist?

I've loved to make art for as long as I can remember and I grew up in a huge family of creative people of all disciplines. Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, Romare Bearden, and Joseph Cornell were among my first loves. Rose-Marie Crystal, genius, and my friend since the second day of first grade, is responsible for pointing out that since all I ever wanted to do was draw, perhaps I should become an artist. Anita Steckel, the extraordinary artist and my mentor, changed my life by teaching me both how to see and how to structure my life around my art.

What is the theme of most of your work? Can you tell us more about your process?

My work is about careful observation, the residue of time, and the discovery of beauty in unexpected places through explorations of scale. I take small, “everyday” subject matter and blow it up to reveal the extraordinary in the ordinary. For four years I was working on a series of large-scale photorealistic pencil and colored pencil drawings of cracks and decay on walls based on photographs that I took in cities around the world. Recently I have shifted my attention to drawing plankton and evaporated sea salt as viewed through a microscope. Concurrently, I am working on a series from the imagination that plays with both cellular and cosmological scales. I love considering the universes in all things. A droplet of ocean water contains an astonishing universe of creatures and plant-life; our bodies are a universe of cells; Earth is a mere speck in the multiverse; cracked tar on my roof is a universe unto itself and so on.

All of my work is characterized by obsessively detailed mark-making. I use the finest of media (pencils or pens) to cover huge surfaces but neither the medium nor the subject matter is immediately identifiable. The act of paying such extreme attention to detail and the small, repetitive motions are intrinsic parts of my process and the driving force behind my work. 

What is it about the mundane that ignites your creativity?

I love the surprises that reveal themselves through focused observation. There is so much possibility in the mundane! It is all about the lens through which we see- we have so many at our disposal!

Background music in your studio?

88% of the time: NPR and it's podcasts i.e.The Moth

8% (for mid-day or late night energy boosts): Salsa, cumbia, 1970s Angolan Jazz etc

4% silence

What does “creativity” mean to you?

Creativity is the state of mind of being open to magic; the power to see the possibility of transformation.

To learn more about Jessica and her work visit her website here.