Jessica Harvey Artist Statement
What does it mean to be human? Can I capture humanness in a single bodily movement? I explore the explicit and universally understood nonverbal communication gestures people make with their eyes, mouth, hands, and other body parts to portray unique emotions and convey messages. All viewers are familiar with these gestures such as a wink, come hither, or raised eyebrow, which brings a self awareness to their own bodies. I can’t help but to curl my own tongue inside of my mouth as I pull on the knob that connects to the wooden tongue on a shelf that I am manipulating as it also curls. Fabricating fragmented body parts I simulate their unique functionality such as an anatomical joint from a wood joint, a wooden eye that blinks, or a puppet hand that calls you to play with it.
My kinetic pieces are manually operated by the viewer or motorized. In interactive artworks, both the audience and the machine work together in dialogue in order to produce the art. On my pieces that have a pull string, the way it is pulled changes the meaning of the piece and I find that that often reflects the viewer by if it is pulled fast or slowly. String connects the viewer to the sculpture while also holding them at a distance.
I come from a long lineage of fine woodworkers and feel innately drawn to this medium and to carrying on the artisan family tradition with my own work. Wood is a material that I am quite familiar with from having spent many hours with my father in his woodshop. Carving wood connects me with the material that was once alive as I bring it back to life into human forms that allows me to explore the connection between sculptures and human.