Interview with Jessica Ruth Freedman
Jessica Ruth Freedman lives and creates on the traditional lands of the Lkwungen peoples on the Westcoast of Canada. Jessica’s artwork explores the relationship between the urban and the verdure. Inspired by the midcentury modern movements in architecture and jewellery, her work juxtaposes controlled man-made forms with the flourishes of the natural world. Her work is included in private and public collections worldwide.
Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice?
I am deeply influenced by my upbringing in a semi-socialist environment on a Kibbutz in Israel. The idea of everyone working together to make sure we all rise, has had lasting effect on the values behind my work. I don’t just want to make pretty art – I want to make art that move people, and encourages them to rise to a higher place within themselves. There is a concept within Jewish thought called ‘Tikkun Olam’, which means to care for the world with every thought or deed. This concept follows through my art practice from the sentiment behind the work, to how I interact with collectors and galleries.
What is the most challenging of being an artist?
Since I work from a studio connected to my home in a rural area on an island, I’d say that definitely the isolation is a challenge for me. My style as an artist is also not typical of what one expects from a Westcoast Canadian artist. I do not paint orcas or foggy beaches, so it has also been a challenge to reach the right market for my work. I have found that my colourful positive work sells best in the Southern United States.
In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?
Truly I believe that art in contemporary culture is accessible to all. The recent effects of the pandemic has forced the art world – artists and collectors – to up their online game. I see art as an influence that can bridge traditions and cultures, and connect as all, especially through the digital platforms.
How would you describe the art scene in your area?
I live on the traditional lands of the Lekungwen Nation on the edge of the Pacific Ocean on the Westcoast of Canada. Coast Salish Indigenous Art is prevalent here, and many fine examples of traditional and contemporary 2D and 3D art can be found. Non-native artists in my area tend to focus on the westcoast landscape, and collectors here are a touch more traditional.
What do you like/dislike about the art world?
I seek out experiences with artists, galleries, art fairs that are inherently positive and supportive in nature. I know there is a lot of fraud and traditional barriers such as the lack of inclusion of women and BIPOC artists, and as a supporter of all art forms I work to to make sure art is inclusive. I have steered away from the pretentiousness and scarcity based models of art, and so my experiences have been nothing but encouraging. The support and sharing that exists through social media between artists and galleries is a phenomenal step forward.
Name three artists you admire.
The artists I admire tend to be fearless in the technical application of their work and also are not influenced by the ‘popular’ art of the day.
A living artist I most admire is Wyanne. She is a contemporary abstract artist living and working in Atlanta GA. She passionately approaches the canvas as a dance with the paint, often working directly onto raw canvas. She is also a fearless and brave human, having overcome a cancer that eventually took her tongue and her ability to eat and speak.
It may not be obvious in my work but my long time art crush is Rene Magritte. His first exhibition in Brussels was met with heaps of abuse, but he persevered in his artistic pursuits, eventually signing the surrealist manifesto and creating work that was illusionist and had a dream like quality.
The third artist I admire is another painter and sculptor from Belgian, Arne Quinze. His work is a dialogue on the balance of ecosystems and on making our cities more human and green.
What are your future plans?
Currently I am in learning mode to set up a home based printing studio to offer high quality prints of my own work, but to also offer on demand prints for other local artists. To be honest I am not sure about the viability of art fairs after this pandemic – if I do in-person events I will focus on smaller audiences with a digital component.