Grotesque Menage rie
Photography by Jessica Joslin
The beasts of Jessica Joslin’s menagerie are of the animal assert themselves and are augmented
equally haunting and compelling. These sometimes by decorative conventions; some are constrained.
wild, sometimes domestic creatures can be found Each piece is a distillation of forms from the internal
perched on ornate platforms, carnivalesque balls, and external structures of the animal, reinterpreted
or carriages. Luxurious materials such as velvet and through the materials that I find beautiful.”
leather contrast with stark bone and metal, while It would be careless to reduce the varied signi-
the creatures’ anthropomorphic poses highlight fiers in these works to a single, consistent message;
unique personifications of character. you’re as likely to find a detail from a couture gown
Joslin, 37, says creating them is like solving a riddle; as a bondage harness. The meanings are layered,
a new technique or part may function as a clue. encompassing a broad range of Joslin’s interests.
Having worked on this type of sculpture for 16 “Those layers are there to be excavated, but are
years, the Chicago artist has refined her techniques not strictly necessary for appreciation of my work.
by building architectural models, prototypes, and In other words, I’m not pursuing a didactic agenda.
custom props. “That training brought a level of exper- I make my beasts because they are what I dreamed
tise in machining, casting, and precision fabrication,” of discovering, but they didn’t exist anywhere, so
she says. “My sculptures are constructed using a I had to make them myself.”
wide range of techniques, each appropriate for the Joslin’s recently released book, Strange Nature,
specific qualities of that material.” is available from the Lisa Sette Gallery at lisasette
It’s difficult to ignore or reconcile the irony inherent
gallery.com. —Thomas Walker Wilson
in the mechanistic look of these recognizably
biological creatures. Joslin explains, “They are at
once grotesque and playful. Certain characteristics
>> Joslin’s creatures: jessicajoslin.com