(Painting, Drawing, Junior/Senior Seminar)
My narrative portrait paintings bring together a mix of imagery inspired by different kinds of stories: literary, cultural, and personal. I’m particularly interested in where these stories overlap and contradict one another; where our individual experiences mirror and distort society’s narratives; where art and life echo each other. My work tests the boundaries of traditional portraiture, focusing on the relationships between an individual’s interior and exterior realities. Formally, my work is informed by art history’s broad array of pictorial and painterly languages, from Italian Renaissance to German Expressionism to Mexican Social Realism and Magical Realism.
Each piece begins with a story and a person, either myself or an individual I know. I look for interesting and surprising relationships between the real life of the model and the idealized fiction of the story, then I begin collecting images to build a visual narrative around the subject. Some images are carefully planned and some are improvised, with sources ranging from art history to the Internet to dreams. As this diverse imagery is combined, multiple tales merge together from literature, society, and the life of the model, creating a new, open-ended story. As each model’s experience is multifaceted and varied, each painting becomes more intricate with layered visual and conceptual elements. This combination of disparate imagery creates a surreal or magical world, reflecting the strangeness of everyday life.
I choose stories and models from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds, allowing me to compare how people in different societies understand themselves. Whether urban or rural, educated or uneducated, rich or poor, I’ve found that people confront similar issues about identity, relationships, and their expected roles in life. In the end, these portraits serve as a reminder that regardless of our individual circumstances, we all grapple with similar questions about the human condition.
Jessica Plattner’s narrative paintings reflect her love of art history and her interest in all kinds of stories. Her work has been exhibited in the United States, Mexico,Canada, and Italy. Plattner has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a Fulbright Scholarship to Mexico. She received a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA from Tyler School of Art.