The West Gallery is proud to present Jessica Wimbley’s ‘Recent Work,’ a solo exhibition featuring new works produced during her artist residency in the Department of Art and Art History. Wimbley is an image-maker whose studio practice integrates the disciplines of drawing, photography and painting. Her digital photographic prints on paper are enhanced with various drawing and painting techniques. Atop carefully composed layers of digital imagery, hand applied colors, marks and textures amplify mysterious depths with radiant glows and colorful shimmers. Her carefully honed process strikes a balance between digital design and handmade tactility creating complex surfaces and spaces.
In numerous bodies of work Wimbley has explored personal and political ideas of race, gender and identity. By digitally interweaving images of star constellations, family portraiture and microscopic biological entities she has developed a rich pictorial lexicon. Her hybrid pictures are a jostling combination of memory, biology, culture and history.
With her current series she draws source imagery from Jet, a magazine that began publishing in 1951 with a focus on beauty, fashion, entertainment, and politics for an African-American readership. Appropriated selections of female fashion model photography from early Jet issues anchor Wimbley’s atmospheric pictures. Superimposed translucent layers of figures with overlapping alignments present women in states of flux and allude to double images in stereoscope photography. Brilliant images of the Milky Way hover in the backgrounds changing the interior spaces into fantastic or dreamlike settings. The dissolving transitional movements and fluid dimensionality in these pictures may refer to subtle shifts of the model’s pose perhaps at a point of introspection where she ponders her sexual identity or to an expansive connectivity like tracing points of history to map genealogical origin.
In 1897 the French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin painted ‘Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?’ Gauguin’s landscape painting with groups of figures, animals and an idol statue poses heavy questions while presenting a symbolic lifespan timeline. This overlapping of time and space within a single picture is central to Wimbley’s theme as well. The narrative energy in her work projects outward into the viewer’s space, granting us a quiet moment to pause and wonder about our own existence.