Interview With Jessica Simorte

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
I am an artist based in Kansas City and I mostly make abstract paintings and drawings. My work is an ongoing examination of how art making can serve as a mode of place making.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
I am heavily influenced by interiors. Topophilia (defined as a serial sensitivity to place) is something I have experienced my entire life and it’s the filter which I view the world and more specifically, base my studio practice. Aside from inside spaces, I’m inspired by the physical act of making, and by other makers. Lately I’ve been looking at a lot of textiles and handmade jewelry. I’m drawn to anything delicate - anything that looks like you have to take really great care of it or it might deteriorate.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
For the past few months I’ve been using spackle regularly, and my sketchbook is always close by. I’m also very dependent on music while I’m working.

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them?
I sometimes struggle with feeling functional in the winter. I’ve hung Christmas lights in the studio and have even started lighting candles. It seems to help.

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work?  
I definitely have a vocabulary of patterns / forms that reappear. I’ll use a “move” in a dominant way for a few paintings and then move on, but they always resurface. I’ve been making work with arches for six years or so, and an emphasis on edges and corners is consistent.

Is there a particular artist you feel you relate to? Who are your role models (artists or non-artists)?
Some of my all-time favorite artists include Rebecca Morris, Allison Miller, Richard Tuttle and Betty Woodman. I cannot think of a specific role model necessarily, but I admire those that are grateful, persistent, kind and opinionated.

Untitled (Lavender Triangle) 

Untitled (Lavender Triangle) 

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?
A professor once said, “Where’s your side band? You’ve got to have a side band!” Since then I keep a number of projects going (whether they’re actually headed someplace or not) so that when there’s something that misfires, there’s always something else to work on.

Other common but great bits of guidance include: show up to as many events as you can, learn how to take strong images, make the business side a priority, send those thank you emails, and break when you need to. 

Untitled (Small Triangle) 

Untitled (Small Triangle) 

Untitled (Soft Square) 

Untitled (Soft Square) 

Jessica is one of the artists in our current exhibition, This is What is Not. You can also see more of her work here