Amorelle Jacox Interview - The Hopper Prize

Amorelle Jacox

Amorelle Jacox on working towards a solo exhibition, the separately severed ends of the body as portals, and the possibility of body, object and deep space being inseparable.

How did you get into making art?

I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember. I was lucky enough to grow up with a mom who is an artist and who took it upon herself to teach us the foundational elements of visual art at a really young age. I have vivid memories of her teaching me, my sisters, and cousins about negative space over the clear kitchen table. My dad, though not an “artist”, is one of the most creative people I have ever met.

What are you currently working on?

At the moment I’m working on paintings of this figure, the “Diver”, which will be heading to LA for a solo show with Lauren Powell Projects in January 2023. Most of the paintings are of the figure falling or diving through space, body severed, in one way or another. I’ve been thinking about the separately severed ends of the body as portals—kind of a proposition of wormholes where the body has been halved. A sort of ambiguity between maybe violence or death and moving through space in a new way. Recently, a lot of the questions that I’m asking in the work are related to the possibility of body and object and deep space being inseparable (to state it as simply and succinctly as possible).

I think about everything in a very linear, connected way.

Amorelle Jacox

What inspired you to get started on this body of work?

I find that the figurative element in my work is always sort of morphing from one thing to the next. Before this “Diver”, it was an acrobat (a figure doing an eternal handstand), and before the Acrobat the figure was a table. Before the table it was a horse, and before the horse a chair, and so on… The figure is always morphing as the questions that I’m opening up in the work begin to expand and reveal new facets. It all is a very fluid transition.

The most recent transition from table to human form came initially from a formal need to break up the symmetry that was happening in one specific painting. This new arrival in the painting was definitely a surprise and something I wasn’t expecting to keep around (I had intentionally been avoiding painting the figure-as-human for a few years now); but it persisted as I moved through painting different iterations of the Acrobat and the Diver in relation to blackholes and wormholes and deep space color planes and garden beds. I’m actually not sure that this figure will stay around much longer as it has been slowly starting to dissipate from some of the smaller paintings I’ve been working on (which are often precursors for the larger works).

Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?

I think about everything in a very linear, connected way. In retrospect I’ll see that the works with the table in them all fit together and explore a specific idea in a way that could separate them as their own distinct “body” of work or project; but when I’m working on them I’m never thinking of them as separate from what I was painting just before because they were so reliant on the works that came before them to be what they are.

What’s a typical day like in your studio?

If I’m being honest, my days are pretty inconsistent and very much about working with my body and headspace as I’m balancing late-night shifts at work and a studio practice. On my good days I’ll get to come in around 10am, make coffee and read a couple of poems to ground me in the space and the day, and then I’ll pretty quickly get to work. I usually start with painting a few ellipses of color in a color-record book that I’ve been working on. Then I’ll start in on a few smaller paintings to warm up. Between 1pm-3pm I mostly find myself sitting on the couch and staring into space, and then once I get out of my mid-day funk I’ll start in where I left off on the larger paintings. My longer studio days usually end around 5pm unless I’m really in a groove or I have a deadline coming up.

Who are your favorite artists?

This really is an impossible question! There are so so many. I just got back from seeing Katherine Bradford’s survey at the Portland Museum of Art and I’m still absolutely buzzing from seeing so much of her work all at once. Her colors and humor and vulnerability in the way that the whole history of the painting is always present is something I can’t stop thinking about. It was really one of those experiences where I was laughing out loud in front of one piece and then the next piece had me choking back tears.

I saw the Cecilia Vicuña show at the Guggenheim last week and I’ve been pouring over her poems since then– those coupled with Eva Hesse’s journals, their sensibilities have been ringing in my ear these days. I also have these books with images of paintings by Rose Wylie, Alfred Wallis, and Noah Davis that I’ll flip through if I’m feeling too stuck in my own headspace. I have so many other favorites and many friends whose practices I am obsessed with that have definitely been an influence on my work and thinking; but these are ones that have been at the forefront these past couple of weeks!

Where do you go to discover new artists?

Living in New York City makes it pretty hard NOT to be discovering new artists all the time! I love having days where I just wander aimlessly around to different galleries or museums. Seeing work in real life is a must for me. I also have a really amazing network of artist friends and we’re always sharing new artists and resources and the like with each other!

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