Jessica Lin is a photographic artist with a love of travel and adventure. She has spent the past 9 years developing her unique abstract landscape photography style, where she extracts elements from her various photographs and recomposes them to create whimsical scenes.
Over the course of months of varying degrees of pandemic lock-down in Toronto, Jessica found herself deeply considering the concept of “home”. This has resulted in a new body of work where she blends the realities of interior domestic spaces and exterior wilderness spaces. It has also led to a major life shift, and a move to a large country property after nearly 4 decades of city living. She’s looking forward to seeing how this change will inform her future work, as well as being excited to start a vegetable garden in the spring.
She has participated in three Artists’ Residencies – Alchemy at Artscape Gibraltar Point on the Toronto Islands, Once Upon Water on Pico Island in the Azores (Portugal), and most recently L’AiR Arts Research residency in Paris, France – all of which have had a lasting influence on her art practice.
In 2018, Jessica was awarded Best in Show at the Ontario Society of Artists' 145th Annual Open Juried Exhibition, and her booth was awarded Best in Show at ArtWalk in the Square in 2019.
Artist Statement – “There’s No Place Like Home”
On March 13, 2020, my then hometown of Toronto entered what was to be the first of a series of lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The world seemed to be on fire, and was shutting down one region at a time, one country at a time, like a wave sweeping across the globe. Like uncountable others, I felt paralyzed by anxiety, shock, and grief. The idea of leaving the house was terrifying, and yet our small house felt like a claustrophobic trap. I remember vividly what I wanted at the time: to be surrounded by growing green things. I wanted vines dripping down my walls, moss covering the floor, trees growing in the middle of rooms.
In an attempt to do what we could for our mental health, my husband and I looked for green spaces, and especially those with creeks or rivers running through them. Not having a car, the months that would follow were mostly restricted to the radius of walking distance, so we started with the ravines nearby. We walked a lot, and we talked a lot. At first, we talked about what was happening, and about the curiosities in the natural world we walked through. Gradually the conversation turned to what we wanted the next couple of decades of our life to look like.
As we walked and talked, I photographed. I wanted to capture the feeling of being surrounded by these spaces, with trees arching overhead like a protective architecture. And as I began to create the artwork from these scenes, I thought ahead to the coming winter. By then, it seemed inevitable that the lockdowns would continue through the colder and darker months, and I wanted to create a buffer against what that would feel like. I envisioned these pieces on my own living room walls, taking up so much space that they would seem like the setting itself, rather than an object on the wall. I layered in underwater bubbles, and fireflies (or fairies), lily pads, flowers, crystals, and magic. And then I gave each one a chair. One of our chairs from home, one of the chairs we’d spent months occupying. I photographed these chairs with sunlight streaming through the leaves, so that each one felt like a safe, warm, happy place to sit.
While I was in the process of envisioning and creating this work, we also decided it was time to leave the city, and head for new adventures. We put our tiny city house up for sale, and bought a place about 4 hours northeast of Toronto, a place on 42 acres of land. Our new project, where we plan to build a couple of small cabins in the woods, and create a collaborative, multi-year art installation where we can host artist residencies, retreats, and guests wanting to immerse themselves in the magic of the place. Where our lives will become a bit of an experiment in sustainable living.
And so, work that was deeply rooted in considering notions of “home” has become the bridge between the life I’ve lived in the city, and everything I created while living there, and the 42-acre rural adventure that awaits.
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