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Helen Jacobs

I have always been fascinated with wallpaper, both as a feature of a home or space but also as a repeated pattern or visual system. Wallpaper loudly asserts itself, and is often tacky or out of date. It possesses the ability to cover a space as well as to hide the possible imperfections behind it. A lot of folks I know from the Midwest, both everyday people and legislators, hide their insidious agendas behind a veil of Christianity. All of my work, but especially my wallpaper explorations, are very rooted in my Midwestern upbringing and my relationship to the environment where I spent my most formative years. I think of the Midwest as a place of great comfort and warmth, but also think of these places in the context of American politics and how the same spaces of comfort and familiarity can also be toxic at an interpersonal level but also as a whole in the systems they create. I have been working through my own distress caused by my mental illnesses and how they are heightened and influenced by our current political landscape and my experiences coming of age in an increasingly dystopian American culture while trying to create work that is not dependent on my personal narrative but can be viewed and interpreted by people with an array of experiences. I hope the contrast between the wallpaper motifs and bodies makes the viewer uncomfortable or conflicted and invites people to take a closer look at the surfaces as well as examine their relationship with these familiar visuals, their own physicality, and how they themselves relate to and occupy different spaces. I make decisions as to how contrasts in paint handling, color, and composition can elevate and inform conceptual concerns and create a visceral, yet thoughtful surface for contemplation and individual reflection.

Midwestern Walls III, Spring 2019; Oil paint, oil stick, wallpaper on wood panel; 30 x 40in
Midwestern Walls II, Spring 2019; Oil paint, oil stick, wallpaper on wood panel; 30 x 40in
Bleeding Heart, Spring 2019; Acrylic paint, oil paint, oil stick, salt on wood panel; 11 x 14in
Bodies in the Walls II, Spring 2019; Oil paint, charcoal on wood panel; 11 x 14in
Bodies in the Walls, Spring 2019; Oil paint, oil stick on wood panel; 36 x 48in
Penis Envy, Spring 2018; Oil paint, oil stick, push pins, rose petals, string on wood panel; 36 x 48in
Heaven and Hell II, Spring 2018; Oil paint, charcoal on wood panel; 36 x 48in
Froggy, Spring 2018; Oil paint, oil stick, charcoal on wood panel; 36 x 48 in
Decaying Cow, Spring 2018; Oil paint, graphite on wood panel; 8 x 10in

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