Written by: Tanisha Parker
Photography by: Sarah Roberts
Jessica Pettway suggested that we meet at Cheese Grille on the LES; and her personality certainly matched the mood of the shop; young, vibrant, and creative. The New Jersey native takes us through her creative process and shares why her decision to study art was a no brainer.
Sarah Roberts: What made you move to the city? Was it school?
Jessica Pettway: I came to the city definitely for school and the art scene. I was so set on going to SVA all through high school. I just knew that’s what I wanted to do.
SR: What type of art are you most involved in?
JP: I’m mostly involved in photography but I’ve slowly been moving into sculpture. I’ve been trying to do more set design in my photos and trying to present my photos in a more fun, playful way. I’m slowly crossing over and doing a bit of both.
Credit: Jessica Pettway
SR: There were some photos on your site that I was curious about, I think Oasis, in particular; are those your structures that you photographed?
JP: Yes, that was my most recent series. I designed them on Illustrator or Solid Works and have them C & C cut and then I painted them and built the rest of the set. It’s really expensive but so much fun.
SR: There is a lot of geometry in your work, and a lot of form, and a lot of obstruction. There’s a lot of things that are covered in the human form that kind of obscure it so you’re not focusing on it as a portrait but as a sculpture. I feel that that part of your work and that idea of combining two things and stretching the bounds of what people perceive as photography, is gaining attention for yourself. Do you feel that people are similarly drawn to your process?
JP: Yea, definitely. Also probably the fact that I always look like a bag lady [laughing] carrying a bunch of props around.
SR: Who or what inspired you to pursue art? It sounds like you’ve been involved in art for awhile, so how old were you when you realized this was who you wanted to be?
JP: I knew I wanted to be a photographer since I was about 14 or 15. Art was always around me; I don’t remember not being around art in some way. My dad went to SVA and he’s a graphic designer.
SR: What, or who, is currently out there that you connect with? Are there any artists that you follow?
JP: I would say Daniel Gordon, for sure. I love his work. He does cut outs as well, but times a thousand. I love the idea of art being playful.
We talked more about Jessica’s cheese obsession, her dream of becoming a scuba diver, and her love of Ja Rule and early 2000s rap music. The 21 year old artist will be showing some of her works in progress at January’s WIP. Check out her work here!