Artist Statement and Bio

Through my work, I examine precarious balance and transition, relying on fragile boundaries between memory and hope, reality and imagination, two-dimensions and three-dimensions. My training as a printmaker contributes to the layered qualities of my drawings and fiber works. I instinctively refer to natural colors and forms, such as linear striations of rock, muted tundra ochres, vibrant summer flowers, and blooming greys of an approaching storm. This imagery alludes to the world we inhabit, are desperate to protect, and which holds the history of generations. Intertwined with references to the landscape are figurative elements which either become windows to what is exuberant and joyful or serve as shadows or veils, dulling and obscuring the elements below.

As I navigate the intersecting roles of my life as an artist, teacher, mother, wife, and friend, and as I try to make sense of an often-chaotic world, I consider the layers that make a whole. Rather than present a certain view, the work is an accumulation of dreams, worries, hopes, fears translated through shelters, caverns, bodies, hollows and perforations. Tangled nets become topographic contours; seams define the meeting of two edges or two moments. Rock cairns and abandoned structures are markers of paths and shadows of lives, relationships and families. Holes, cavities, and absence implies presence. Arms and hands grasp for connection, are often full, and can be pulled in opposing directions. I create depth and density through overlays of information, and light is found within the dark. Within the subtle, liminal, and bittersweet, I contemplate the sentiment of the past, and the potency of a hopeful future.

Jessie Van der Laan is an interdisciplinary artist, living in Knoxville, TN. She received her B.F.A in Printmaking and Drawing from Washington University in St. Louis (2002) and her M.F.A in Studio Art from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2009). Her work is informed by her training as a printmaker, and a childhood spent knitting, sewing, drawing, and daydreaming. Van der Laan was raised in Denver, CO, whose landscape continues to lend form and color to her work. She is an Assistant Professor of Art at Walters State Community College in Morristown, TN. She has shown her work in numerous national and regional exhibitions, including solo shows at Lindenwood University and Moberly Community College of Missouri, the Rose Center for the Arts in Morristown, TN, and at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, TN. She makes her work at the Vacuum Shop Studios, a collaborative artist space, which she co-founded.