Tuesday, April 3, 2018

INSPIRE ME! Artist of the Month, Jessica Springman - April 2018

By Ernest Disney-Britton
"The Offering: Cain and Abel" by Jessica Springman
In 2015, Jessica Springman started people talking when she created "The Offering: Cain and Abel" using her highly detailed illustration and design. The brothers were the sons of Adam and Eve, and the pattern at the center represents how God loved them both equally. One side, however, represents making bad choices. The other represents making the right choices (Gen. 4:1–16). I met the Indianapolis-based artist before I knew she was a Christian. I met Springman in 2014,  as she installed a mural, an intricate series of large black & white circles, on the windows of the Arts Council of Indianapolis that I passed every day. That following December, Greg and I purchased one of her "tiny" drawings and when we hung it on our wall, our friends Pastor Vivian & Mick Ampy fell in love with it. Soon after, we gave it to them as a wedding gift. We think you'll enjoy learning more about Jessica Springman, and her work.
Jessica Springman (2015) with her artwork at the Artsgarden in Indianapolis
Q1. Where and when were you born, and what is your artistic training?
Q1. I was born in Ogden, Utah on October 22, 1972. I graduated with a double-major (Bachelor of Science) in Communication and Art from Westminster College in December 1998.
"Circularity" by Jessica Springman, Ink on Board, 32"x40"
Q2. Which religious tradition has informed your artwork, and how?
Q2. I was born into a household following the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), but I converted, and was confirmed to the Episcopal faith, in 2011. Religion doesn't inform my fine art, but I am inspired by religious, medieval and illuminated texts from all over the world, particularly Ottoman, Islamic, and Middle Eastern patterns and Arabic calligraphy.

I was honored to be included in the Butler University, Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Seminar, Round 4 in late 2015. The "theme" was Cain and Able. The 12-week course is set up not so much as "Bible study" but as a comprehensive view of one notable biblical story, as it has been told through art, throughout time. All forms of art are considered -- from drawing to contemporary cinema -- and as such, artists from all disciplines are invited to apply to participate in the program. At the end of the course, each participant is asked to produce a professional work based on the theme.

My final work for the course was a drawing, created in two parts -- The Offering: Cain and Abel.

Each side represents one of the brothers from the story. The drawings were created separately, because Cain and Abel were not the same in mind, body, or spirit. When the two drawings are shown side-by-side, the central geometry is God. He radiates from the center of all things, and is represented equally, and as the underlying foundation throughout the work. Notice that the pattern of God in the work is the same on both sides -- because God is there, the same, for all of us -- but He is shaded differently on either side, representing that God can, and often does, appear differently to every person.  The filigree on either side of the drawing represents life. In the story of Cain and Abel, as they were brothers, their lives were very similar, and so their "life" is drawn similarly -- with the same width, curls, and shape. But Cain is drawn with a bit more detail, rendering him "darker"...while Abel is a bit more "clean" and "open." The natural elements on the Abel side -- birds on the wing, eating berries among petaled flowers -- shows the gentler, more "beautiful" and non-threatening aspects of being alive.  The elements on the Cain side are the same -- there's still food, but it's not berries, but other life as food -- snakes and spiders eating birds, and likely, each other; there's still flowers, but instead of soft petals, there are thistles with thorns; and instead of the general nicety of the Able side, the whole of the Cain side is made up of life that Humanity has been generally taught to think of as "bad."  What I was trying to convey in my work is the thought that...

"just because you don't like a thing, doesn't make it bad. The snakes, and spiders and thistles are not wrong in what they're doing. They are doing the best they can with the life they were given"

...I was illustrating that it's the choices we make in life that make us "right" or "wrong," not our life generally speaking. Cain and Abel did what God asked, and made their offering. Why God chose Abel, and rejected Cain, is God's business, not ours. Cain was not born or raised "evil," and God's choice did not make Cain "evil."  Cain did that to himself, by choosing to act on his anger and frustration, rather than accept the life he was given, and a make the best of it.
'Pristina Jessica" by Jessica Springman, Ink on Board, 32" x 40"
Q3. Have you ever had to defend exploring religious ideas?
Q3. Only when explaining complex pieces, like The Offering: Cain and Abel. People are more curious why I picked Cain and Abel, and not something more "commonly known" like "the Garden of Eden" or the story of Exodus. When I explain to them the parameters of the RSA program, people seem satisfied.
"Revelation" by Jessica Springman, Ink on Board, 32" x 40"
Q4. What challenges have you faced in creating religious-themed works?
A4. None to date. What I find fascinating when exhibiting The Offering: Cain and Abel, is the general lack of understanding of the story as it's told in the Bible. It's really evident in our younger generation that religion, and the Bible, are not understood. If I were to cite a "challenge" faced when creating religious-themed work, it's the offense people take when I am trying to explain my work, simply because they have little to no understanding of the Bible, or religious teaching, and feel the need to defend their ignorance.
"Walls Around My Heart" by Jessica Springman, Ink on Board, 32" x 40" NFS
5. Who are your favorite artists, and whose work is in your collection?
A few of my favorite artists in Indiana are Pam Newell, William Denton Ray, Justin Vining, and Kat Silver. All of these artists are represented in my collection, with the exception of Pam (I'm still saving-up to afford one of her lovely oil paintings).  My favorite woman artist is Artemesia Gentileschi, but I'm more inspired by the modern works of artists like: Joe Fenton, Laurie Lipton, Jackson Pollack, Thomas Darnell, and Andre Kohn.
"Coronation" by Jessica Springman. Ink on hemp paper, 24" x 24"
Q6. Who collects your work, and why?
A6. My work is in the public collection at Conner Prairie Living History Museum, at the Huntington (IN) Library, and as a semi-permanent installation at City Hall in Fishers, IN. Numerous private collectors find me through my website, and Instagram, and come from all over the U.S., and in England, France and Dubai. People collect my ink drawings, as well as my paper cut art, because of the massive amount of fine detail I put into my work, and because all my work is created entirely by hand, using traditional tools and techniques, and because I rarely offer prints. They collect my work because my style is fairly unique, and most of it is (and always will be) one-of-a-kind.
"Bound" by Jessica Springman, Ink on Paper, 22" x 30"
Q7. Where can AOA collectors experience your work this year?
A7. I just finished up two back-to-back solo exhibitions -- at Art Access Gallery in Salt Lake City, Utah, and at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center in Bloomington, Indiana. I'm represented by the Art Works Gallery in Cedar City, Utah, and with Hoosier Salon Gallery in Carmel, Indiana. My Instagram feed (@jmspringmanart) is the best place to see works in progress, while my website (www.jmspringmanart.com) is the best way to see completed works (new and old) and to find original works for sale. I am a member of the National Association of Women Artists (the oldest women's fine art association in the United States) and expect to be part of several of their exhibitions in the New York area later this year. I'm also active with various arts organizations and galleries throughout Indiana and Utah, and expect to participate in exhibitions in those states later this year as well.

Jessica M. Springman
Fine Art | Design | Illustration
Follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: JMSpringmanArt