Interview with Wearable Artist Jessica Singerman


  What is your training in art & Design
I have a BA  in Studio Art from College of William & Mary, Virginia and an MFA in painting from the University of Delaware.
During my Jr. Year Abroad, I spent a semester studying drawing, painting, graphic design, and jewelry making in Florence.  The other semester was spent in Paris with Parsons School of Design.
 When and how did you begin.
Some of my earliest memories are of sitting at the dining room table and making things with my mom—miniature food out of salt dough, miniature books for my dolls (I’ve always been obsessed with miniature everything), origami, knitting clothes for dolls, etc…
By high school, I was drawing and painting a lot, sketching wherever I went… I took my first life drawing class when I was 15 and living in Tours, France.  That was an important point for me—I’ve always been in love with the figure.
Jewelry-making: I had been making things with beads since I was really young- I started playing around with metal my sophomore year in college, and ended up running a jewelry-making business out of my dorm room (so pro!)  That’s actually when the name “naida’s notions” came about (Naida is my maternal great grandmother’s name)
 How would you describe your work
some words I think of are: organic- nature based – biological – my husband says my use of color is fearless
I’m very interested in relationships between line and form, in pushing color around until I am surprised by the reaction or relationship created.
I started using pinks, reds, purples, magenta (I love magenta) in grad school, and it really rocked my world!  I had stuck to fairly conservative color throughout my work with the figure.  It’s funny- my last year in college I was doing sort of feminist work—very political in my mind—really trying to say something.  In grad school, once I embraced using those very “feminine” colors, it was a big turning point for me.  I had also made a shift to doing mostly abstract work rather than figurative.  I actually started doing abstract work in a sort of counterintuitive way.  I had never really worked from photographs before, and in order to start abstracting my work, I began using photography to help me see in a different fashion.  I would move the camera while shooting, get blobs of color and light, and motion blurs.  I painted what I saw in the photo and ended up with abstract figuration. From then I moved away from the figure entirely (well, for the most part)  It’s interesting to me that most artists would use a photo to make work look “real”(and there is nothing wrong with this), while for me it was a tool to bring my work more into the realm of painting for its own sake.

I love this photo of Bear- he looks like he's daydreaming.

I love your use of color.  Where do you find inspiration for your paintings.
being outside- the way light falling on something creates shapes and changes a color- light falling through foliage in the forest- paddling down a river, hearing rushing water around me, and watching the water play- microscopic, biological images
I can’t really pinpoint everything, because in a way everything inspires me.
The Bay Area artists of the 50’s and 60’s, primarily Richard Diebenkorn (and not just his work from that time, but also later- Embarrassingly I once actually cried when talking about a painting of his in a job interview for a teaching position. Not surprisingly I did not get the job. I really don’t know what came over me. Must have been nerves.)
Agnes Martin’s meditative, subtle, slightly imperfect grids
the fact that Gerhard Richter can flip from figuration to pure abstraction and back (where a brushstroke is literally it), and that he is OK with it
Mary Oliver’s poetry
Andy Goldsworthy’s use of color, form, and line in his landscape installations
the Japanese idea of “wabi-sabi” that values imperfection and impermanence
 I see you are fluent in quite a few languages.  How has that influenced your work.
That’s a tough one! Since I was old enough to realize it, growing up both bilingual and bicultural (my mother is French, and we moved back and forth between the States and France growing up) affected how I see myself-my identity.  I have a hard time identifying with a nationality or group of people, and have usually felt more comfortably and more at home in entirely different countries, namely Italy and Costa Rica.  I am sure that this sense of self must influence my work, but am not sure how…
They say that multilingual kids have a greater capability for creative thinking because you do not associate the usual meanings and connotations to a word that one language attribute to it.  Instead you have the range of meaning ascribed by all the languages you speak.  I guess this creates a kind of plasticity in the mind. who knows?

As far as making jewelry is concerned, it is refreshing to be able to make something that is unabashedly pretty!

View Jessica’s work at
I am a new blogger for Handmade Philly.  This is a first in a seies of interviews I will be doing.  I hope you enjoy them and give me feedback.
  Thanks Joanne Litz

One Response to “Interview with Wearable Artist Jessica Singerman”

  1. How To Keep Your Goals For The New Year

    […] Interview with Wearable Artist Jessica Singerman « Handmade Philly […]

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