Jessica BrandlHelena, Montana

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Jessica Brandl holds an MFA in Ceramics from The Ohio State University and a BFA from The Kansas City Art Institute. In 2017, Brandl was recognized as one of six Emerging Artists at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, and the recipient of the Zanesville Prize for best vessel. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including “The Zanesville Prize for Contemporary Ceramics”, “Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change”, NCECA Biannual invitational, hosted at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Brandl has worked as an artist in residence at the Alberta College of Art + Design, the Tyler School of Art, c.r.e.t.a Rome, Northern Clay Center, The Archie Bray Foundation, the Armory, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, Red Start Studios, and the International Ceramics Studio, Kecskémet, Hungary. Her most recent work investigates the vessel as canvas and sculptural container for expressing human pathos and sentiment.

The hero’s tale is an intriguing concept; it is a reoccurring theme embedded in nearly every human story describing a downtrodden yet virtuous figure and their path in overcoming obstacles to arrive at success. This narrative describes the core characters journey of all religions, countless mythologies, and all of the Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series.

Viewed through the lens of my own life, I find that the typical hero criterion does not fit with my person necessarily. I view my own journey in life as a quest but I embody the underdog or antihero, the characteristics of my gender, orphaned absence of family, and personal history supporting this assertion. It is because of these unlikely and historically un-extraordinary characteristics I draw inspiration and find ample opportunity to dig at the conflicting truths that I was brought up with. I speak candidly to my audience by means of pictures and objects, subsequently drawing strength from my destabilized background, building a sense of identity and agency beyond personal trauma, and guilt.

I arrive at picture-objects in clay, equal parts exertion and representation to describe intangible thoughts and reflections of places I knew. In clay I have found the visual potential to construct a vessel that communicates a story by considering a synthesis of image and form but also divines an object that holds symbolic language and sooths the compulsive desire I have to describe the world as I see it.