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Jessica Caponigro


I use line, geometry, pattern, and accessible materials to address issues surrounding restriction, both physical and psychological. I often use specific moments as a referential foundation, yet my work transcends an explicit scene and transitions into a universal experience, either of conquering or succumbing to the fear.

Raised in Eastern Pennsylvania, in the foothills of the Appalachians where steel and coal had once dominated and supported the community, I was taught from an early age that leaving was my only real option for living a nonconformist life. Part of a large, traditional Sicilian American family where, coincidentally, a majority of the men were either dead or divorced into oblivion, I was surrounded by strong and opinionated women. I was, however, still expected to succumb to patriarchical society, which confines women in gender normative behaviors and tells them they must express themselves in clearly defined ways, dressing and acting as was deemed appropriate for their gender.

In my work, I create environments of egalitarian, manipulated objects and patterns. I alter mundane goods, combining and manipulating them to highlight their elegance and beauty, while at the same time emphasizing their immanent inadequacy as a quality to be revered.

I maintain a sincere connection with the landscape, architecture, and domestic items found in my childhood home. Created from a catalogue of accessible objects, I often use raw building materials, artificial foliage, laminate flooring, gold spray painted mirrors, and plastic wrapped furniture. Materials that do not inherently exist in confined spaces, like coal and limestone, are often encased in resin or plastic, or are wrapped in wire and contained and restricted in unnatural ways.

Functioning in a comparable respect, I also use abstracted but recognizable pattern structures, which retain accessibility through their familiarity. I am interested in the ability of repetitious materials to maintain integrity while simultaneously possessing a sense of their own deficiency. A loss of originality occurs when content is reduced to pattern. It is the inherent failure to reproduce by hand that informs my work, breaking the monotony of the identical with the significance of imperfections. Working in multiples, both in regards to chosen, preexisting materials and my own formations, relieves the work of perceived importance, and highlights the social equality of my work.

While I am most certainly an interdisciplinary artist, my work is forever conceptually intertwined with printmaking and the issues and concerns it arouses. In contrast to other mediums, the collaborative nature of printmaking often forces assistance and cooperation at the press, which led to historically more conductive exchanges between genders. Unlike the solitary nature of many art practices, a sense of community develops as artists become dependent of each other for assistance. Using repetition and accessibility as my foundation, it is my intent to create work in which proscribed relationships of the seemingly recognizable are called into question along cultural and personal expectations.

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