Jean Hess

Laboratorium 1
11″x11″x1″; paper, acrylic paint and resin, dry metallic pigment, graphite on cradled birch board; 2021

Jean Hess
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

STATEMENT

I am more interested in the process of working with collage than I am concerned about any specific outcome. I subscribe to the philosophy that collage allows one to play with random finds–“accidental” materials–in immersive yet unpredictable ways. “Why not?” and “Let’s see what happens” sum up my philosophy and method.

The end result should always be a surprise.

My experiments run the gamut; I am mostly known for multi-layered collage paintings that combine printing, painting, drawing and found ephemera in deep translucent resin layers. I am currently also testing freer, more traditional collages with paper and glue, as well as 3-dimensional assemblages, small and delicate faux trinkets and hand-stitched textile collages.

I like the random nature of found “surprises,” especially the discarded, old and damaged–detritus, fragments and scraps, including portions of my own prior work. I use antique textbooks, maps, and documents, preserving evidence of prior use such as scribbles and stains. I take small bits from full images. I paint over many elements to further incorporate [“obscure”] the fragment into a larger field. I often scrape paint and paper layers away from what is covered, revealing an unforeseen fragment.

My vocabulary and palette have been very consistent over time. I am true to an inspiring vision, of light and infinite expansion, that changed my life at age 18. Jung and the mystical poets helped me understand how all this affected my life and work.

Signature elements include: Celestial bodies floating in sky and reflected in water; night skies; luminosity; aerial perspective; maps and grids; visibly layered imagery including underlying marks; secondary colors such as turquoise, coral, indigo, gold and gray.

I strive to work in a positive, transcendent vein and hope my work brings peace and pleasure, if not surprise, to others.

My work is in museum and other public collections. I am especially proud that many pieces are in private homes because what I make is highly personal and idiosyncratic.

BIO

Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, I have lived in many US cities. As with my art, life has been an experiment in embracing what is at hand.

I studied art at Maryland Institute, College of Art, the University of Maryland, and the University of New Mexico. A BA in art and anthropology from the University of New Mexico was followed by a MA and further field work in cultural anthropology at the University of New Mexico. Social impact research and community development work led to executive positions in research for the US Government and major corporations in Washington, DC, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Abiquiu, Atlanta, Dallas.

These days I focus on my garden, volunteer for the Master Gardener program through the US Extension Service, and continue to work on collage paintings, textiles and mixed-media assemblage.

ARTIST CONTACT

[click to email]
www.jeanhess.com

IMAGES

Laboratorium 2
11″x11″x1″; paper, acrylic paint and resin, dry metallic pigment, graphite on cradled birch board; 2021
Matewan 2
31″x31″x2″; paper collage, acrylic, graphite, resin on cradled birch panel; 2020
Matewan 3
31″x31″x2″; paper collage, acrylic, graphite, resin on cradled birch panel; 2020
Travel
collaged paper on paper with traces of paint and pencil; 2021