Tom Jessen grew up in rural Iowa surrounded by endless cornfields and sky. This same minimalist aesthetic permeates much of his work. Trained initially as a painter at the University of Iowa, his work has expanded to a variety of mediums and improvised materials. Even so, he still maintains a painter’s formal aesthetic and eye while subverting historical expectations of 2D and 3D forms. His work is both playful and irreverent - rigorous in its interrogation of contextual circumstances. As a result, his work might be understood as simultaneously elevating the quotidian and deflating the distended heroics in Art.
Recently, I’ve been interested in grounding my work in the vernacular of everyday discarded objects that have personal connections to my life and environment. By taking these objects out of context and utilizing color as a means to subvert its cultural signi-fication, my hope is to invite an experience to see these objects in a different light; one in which draws attention to the work’s playfulness, humor and irreverence which is often discordant with the historical understanding of how we are meant to experience Art. The playfulness of the work stems from the parallels I see between the process of making art and the kind of rules one follows in playing games where materials are not unlike movable game pieces. I often employ chance operations and game theory in constructing the work and organizing its form. This insures the work remains fluid; its philosophy of modularity allowing each form to always be different. This process allows me to distance my own agency, stay present and keep the experience mysteri-ous and engaging for me.
Tom Jessen is a multimedia artist. He holds a BFA from the University of Iowa and a MFA from Vermont College of Fine Art. His work is in university and private col-lections, and has been shown nationally. He lives in Temple, Maine.
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