Interview with Jessica Lund

by - March 27, 2012

Dwayne Butcher: Can you talk a little bit about your recent exhibition at Marshall Arts New Walls
Jessica Lund: New Walls was a paired exhibition that ran from February 6-17, 2012 at Marshall Arts gallery. The show included a large drawing/installation of mine, Grid 2, drawings a-e, oil paintings made by Adam Higgins (an undergraduate painter at MCA), and six collaborative drawings we began during the summer. There is a lot of commonality in our thinking, and we both had a lot of work, so we decided to look into exhibiting together. For both of us, it was the first time we had shown work in Memphis beyond large group exhibitions. The Marshall Arts gallery provided  New Walls with the incredible format of s p a c e- I am currently working pretty large, so it was great to be able to see the work with some room around it! Everything just came together really nicely into what I see as the first real introduction of my work to the Memphis community. So, hello!

Installation View ‘New Walls: new and collaborative work by Adam Higgins and Jessica Lund’ | includes from left to right- Grid 2, drawings a-e Jessica Marie Lund, strait-line chalk, mixed media on drywall and vellum, 2011-12, 624 x 144 x 18” & Sub-environment 3, A. R. Higgins and J. M. Lund, mixed media on Stonehenge, 2012, 180 x 50”

DB: The exhibition was in collaboration with Adam Higgins, have you worked together before and how did the collaboration change the way you usually work, if it did at all?
JL: In the past I have primarily installed my work alone, so it was great to have a partner to help with the installation of Grid 2, drawings a-e. Necessity found me on a twelve-foot ladder at four in the morning, still snapping chalk lines, so I really loved the help. As far as the six collaborative drawings go Sub-environment 1-6, they began as a way to keep working after the stress of another semester, and another review, had passed- I think that sense of…having time… made its way into the drawings’ formation. In addition to that, we are both brave mark-makers, so I think the entire process was colored by an almost subversive desire to make a decision that would flabbergast the other. The relatively intuitive approach we took in the making of these drawings stands in contrast to their underlying framework; our private studio practices related to one another in identifying architecturally metaphysical or pseudo-scientific sites of choice and control, and provided the conceptual content for the drawings.

Grid 2, drawings a-e Jessica Marie Lund, strait-line chalk, mixed media on drywall and vellum, 2011-12, 624 x 144 x 18”

DB: Does this body of work continue the ideas in your previous work?
JL: There are several themes that have carried over into the body of work at New Walls and the pieces I am constructing now; I have been interested for some time in ritualistic processes, and how they impregnate memory and space. However, the particulars of the pseudo-science I am creating as a foundation for the current work to lie on are new. The parameters these ideas are built on can be described as “visualizing the architecture of memory,” which relies on several hypotheses. The first of these is that time can be thought of visually as latitudes, and action via ritualistic processes as intersecting longitudes; memory is the resulting grid. The second is that each point plotted along those intersections is inscribed in a way that resists the influence of time and trauma, and therefore prescribes identity. The third is that these points, generated by the physical action of ritualistic processes, create material impressions on the space in which they occur. The fourth is that this same formula can be used in examining communities; repetition through ritual can describe historical patterning.

DB: How did your interest in "visualizing the architecture of memory" come about? 
JL: Exploring the motifs of ritual, memory, and space have described a path that led me to the pseudo-scientific model described earlier. As a recovering drug addict I have special interest in these themes; for example, large sections of my memory are still unrecoverable, while those transcribed with an adjacent ritual remain sharp. The spaces I have inhabited are impregnated with a distinct odor and texture related to those rituals. A desire to combat the usual alienation associated with this disease has generated the impetus for finding commonality between those specific ritualistic processes and the broader spectrum of chosen ritual. I use materials both physically and representationally (rolled cotton, stainless steel scrubber, low-income apartment housing) that speak directly to that impetus in order to provide an authentic framework for the constructed ideology.

DB: Does working with industrial materials help with these ideas? Have you always used these types of materials?
JL: This body of work utilizes a large range of materials; they can be broken into two categories- one that specifically relates to ritualistic process and the other to the spaces in which those practices are performed. The first includes stainless steel scrubbers, cotton balls, and the implementation of needlework. The second consists of drywall paneling, poplar and pine lumber, and strait-line chalk. Assimilating materials imbedded within conceptual content is a consistent armature for my work; as a system it offers a way to manipulate ideas in a physical, almost literal, manner. In addition, the second group, or ‘industrial,’ set of materials acts as a metaphor for choice within the memory-grid hypothesis; ritual practice may be chosen rather than dictated, and in that way the formation of longitude and latitude can be consciously constructed. Similarly, I use these construction materials to build a physical space/place.
DB: You are currently a graduate student at the University of Memphis, are these ideas and concepts you are working on towards your thesis?
JL: Right now I am in my second year of the University of Memphis’ three-year MFA program. I intend to be working with these ideas through my thesis and for some time after. Looking back, it becomes apparent that these themes have taken on an almost entirely new character as I have continued to explore their possibilities. I anticipate this conceptual framework unfolding in new directions as I move forward.

DB: Where did you come from and how has being in Memphis affected your work?
JL: I moved here from Huntsville, Alabama, so in comparison the opportunities available within the arts are pretty extensive. Let me reveal my small-town roots by saying that adding Thursday night lectures and Friday night gallery hopping to my weekly routine was quite the luxury, and the information gathered at those events, or just the larger dialogue within the community, has been a great asset to my studio practice. I have also met many people here who have been instrumental in pushing my work forward (you know who you are). Beyond that, I simply love Memphis.
DB: You are also the director to the Pla(i)n(e) Gallery. Talk a little bit about what you envision for the space and what its role may be.
JL: Pla(i)n(e) gallery was one of the many lovely outcomes of the department moving to the new Art and Communication building. I was working with Lester Merriweather in the Jones Alumni gallery when we learned there would be new gallery spaces available as a result of the move; so I was in a good position to be a part of how the new student-run space was managed, and have been acting as the director for a larger exhibition committee (currently- Benjamin Netterville, Claudia Santillan, Hope Clark, and Will Cousar). The Pla(i)n(e) gallery was formulated as a U. Memphis, Department of Art student-run space with its primary objective being to provide those students with ample opportunity to exhibit and curate. In an effort to further the experience of all students involved, we are implementing a collaborative curatorial style between the exhibition committee and selected applicants. Students may apply for group exhibitions, paired exhibitions, or solo exhibitions. They may also apply to curate an exhibition. In addition to filtering through applications to fill our calendar, the committee will also curate one exhibition per semester that invites artists from outside the University into the gallery. My hope for Pla(i)n(e) is that it will provide a valuable forum for University Department of Art students, while including outside artists to resist insularity. We are very dedicated to getting the word out about each artist’s exhibition, and it has been exciting to see new faces on campus. [like] Pla(i)n(e) on Facebook to stay up to date on upcoming events, or to join our email list!

DB: How are the exhibitions put together?
JL: Pla(i)n(e) gallery is continually accepting applications from University of Memphis Department of Art students. In correspondence with advertised submission deadlines, the exhibition committee reviews all available applications for three student shows per semester. Artists are selected based on the strength of their application packet and ingenuity in using the available space and recourses. The exhibition that incorporates work from outside artists is curated each semester by the committee, and is a result of days of brainstorming and dialogue as a group. Pla(i)n(e) gallery’s programming will strive to engage all members of the Department- fine art, graphic design, art history, and art education. The rest is put together like anything else worth doing- with hard work from dedicated people.

DB: Has curating always interested you?
JL: I have always been a bit curious about curating; working as an assistant with Lester Merriweather at the Jones Alumni gallery developed that curiosity into a serious interest. He has been an excellent mentor, and I am excited that we will be able to continue working together (heads up Memphis, he will be curating two new gallery spaces at the Art and Communication Building, U. Memphis, opening Fall 2012!). 

DB: Finally, what are your immediate and long-term goals once you finish at U of M?
JL: I have a lot of energy and the interests to match, but at the end of the day, it is all about making work. Looking for studio assistant/gallery positions and residencies to sustain myself, and my studio practice, is the first order of business after graduate school. Definitely, the highest priority is making work and exhibiting as much as possible, as well as looking for gallery representation. Beyond that, who knows? I still have a tad over a year left at U. Memphis, and opportunities have a way of popping up. Thanks to everyone (past, present, and future) who has helped me along the way. 

You can see more of Jessica's work by visiting

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