Jessica Dehen

Making a Way

Making A Way | Interruption
Artists: Jessica Dehen, Marley Foster, Hannah Nielsen, Alyssa Reiser Prince, Claire Whitehurst

Jessica Dehen: On her work
Jessica Dehen: How Coronavirus has affected her practice

My direct personal experiences with others and my innate connection with my natural surroundings parallels the complex aesthetic relationships that I investigate in my paintings. Void of representational content and nonobjective in style, I create, explore and negotiate complicated relationships between formal aesthetic elements that are constantly in flux as the work is ‘becoming’. As coexisting visual tensions and harmonies emerge through the painting process, I respond to them intuitively, encouraging these formal interactions to codetermine their own evolutionary path within and suggestively beyond the four sides of the canvas.

I associate the progression of my paintings with that of a slow-forming ecosystem in that they begin with large, gestural forms that eventually evolve into more complicated interactive spaces, where intuitive marks and complex forms are then given the opportunity to perish or propagate. Thin washes of translucent colors are balanced with smaller fleeting marks that engage with their forming environment. Scrawled lines are drawn into the surface with oil sticks, dry pastel, and brushes while rags, spray bottles, and my own hands wipe them away, leaving only the remnants of their existence. What remains is a topographical visual history for the viewer to engage with.

I believe that the canvas serves as an “arena in which to act” and that the act of painting demands an extended dialogue between artist and surface. My paintings reflect the equally weighted significance that I place on both the process of painting itself and the final resolved image. Although my work does not portray imagery of identifiable places or things, their enveloping scale and apparent visual history alludes to a sense of environmental ambiguity. I enjoy suggesting moments of soft, atmospheric space that is then interjected with distinctive, man-made marks; reminding the viewer that they are, nevertheless, situated in front of a painting.

Jessica Dehen graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2014 with her bachelor’s degree in Visual Art as a President’s Gold Scholar and with honors, summa cum laude. Dehen is currently enrolled at the University of Miami in pursuit of her MFA in Painting with a full-teaching assistantship. During her undergraduate career, she served as studio intern for the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, FL and, in spring of 2012, was awarded the Vitelli Arts and Culture Grant by Florida Gulf Coast University. In October of 2019, Dehen was invited to stay as resident artist at the Burren College of Art’s Summer 2021 Residency Program in Ballyvaughan, Ireland. Dehen has exhibited in numerous university showcases during both her graduate and undergraduate career and has additionally exhibited in various group exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Dehen’s work has been published in both printed and digital media platforms. In addition to actively working and exhibiting as a visual artist, Dehen jointly served as a Fine Arts Department Chair and Fine Arts Community Leader in the Palm Beach County School District from 2017 to 2019.
Instagram: @jessdehenart