Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and raised in Alabama and Georgia, Jessie now resides in South Carolina with her family and considers herself a true Southern girl.
The natural world has always held a fascination for her, as seen by the collection of found objects and mason jars filled with creepy crawlies that littered her back porch as a child... and her back porch to this day!
The natural as well as the supernatural, that magical world of the unseen, captured her imagination and has held it hostage with its secret delights. It was this other world that is only visited in books, movies and art, that she has found to be her biggest inspiration.
Friday nights were spent with Elvira in the 70's and 80's and whatever awesome B movie The Mistress of the Dark was hosting. Reading and rereading books like the Witches of Worm and later, anything Poe or King had written, she was mesmerized by all things spooky and otherworldly.
And, throughout her entire life there was art. She was coloring, drawing, painting, sculpting, beading, and collaging all the time, spending endless hours entertained by scary movies as she worked away on her latest creative endeavor.
Showing a love of drawing and painting as a young child, her parents encouraged her by keeping her stocked in a constant supply of crayons, paint and paper. They even made it possible for her to take art classes from the hugely talented photorealistic portrait artist Jeanie Maddox, whose aesthetic would heavily influence Jessica's own paintings some twenty years later.
In 1999 she graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis on painting and religion. Having developed a love for painting in oils, she spent her time honing her skills as a portrait artist under the direction of the immensely talented John Weinkien and Brenda Jones.
After graduation, through a weird turn of events, she spent the next fourteen years in the nuclear power industry which offered little outlet for her creativity, but did provide an opportunity for her to develop other skills that she had previously underutilized.
In 2014, she decided to practice the craft that had always been the hallmark of her being. Leaving the nuclear world, she embarked on a journey to become the professional artist that she had always dreamed of being.
Like all of the stages of her creative life, the work that she is doing now differs completely from any other, yet Jessica believes it to be the truest to her nature. She is infusing into her work the elements of her life that bring her the most joy. Her love of the natural world, the macabre, the inane, the magical, the grotque and the whimsical are all expressed with unbound freedom.
"Each piece delights me to imagine and then make. I hope they will delight you to own."
...oh and about my name! I can't let you go without helping you to pronounce this Scanda-hoovian name I married into.
Pretend there's an "a" in between the D and V.
Da-Verg-sten There. Easy!
How do you do that?!
The art that I create is varied and depends solely upon what interests me in the moment. There are many names for the styles that I employ: sculpture, assemblage and doll art are a few. And the themes that I choose range from steampunk to gothic to folk. But, whatever the style or theme, my goal is to create something visually dynamic. I enjoy three dimensional work that allows me to make and build things with my hands. The tactile nature of clays and paper mache attract me to them and are the basis for all of my work. My lifelong love of painting is like the cherry on top, and completes each piece.
I have several collections that I enjoy working on and as an idea strikes me I begin to create it. I have a line of pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns that tickle me to build because of their individual physical characteristics and personalities. My diorama's, or room boxes, are a blast to make because I get to tell a narrative, some more complex than others, but all meant to entertain. I often tip my hat to some of the greatest and most loved stories and characters with a creative twist that makes them uniquely mine.
I do not limit the media I use, but rather look for media that will help me create the element that I need. I make my own paper mache paste with a recipe that I have developed over time, I work with homemade air dry and store-bought sculpt clays. I hand build most of the individual elements of each piece, but also incorporate found natural objects and a few purchased items as well.
Because I do a great deal of miniature work that is very complex, I spend most of my time figuring out how to make a unique design that meets my needs. This is where I have the most fun. The analytic part of my brain thrives during these problem solving sessions and the creative part goes nuts for the application and creation. I make casts of my own designs and incorporate those as well as the originals in my work. I even make all of the lighting effects!
Due to the mediums that I use, chiefly paper mache, there are drying times that are needed for each stage of a piece. Because of this, I am continuously working on upwards of 20 pieces at a time. This does not mean that I am assembly lining my work, it only means that each piece can only be created in stages and thus I am able to rotate to work that is ready while other work is resting.
The final product is a sculpture that is meant to be entertaining and engaging to the viewer. With my diorama's, the end goal is to create a piece that is so rich with detail, that the viewer will continue to discover new details and nuanced themes over time. If I succeed in my vision, the owner of a piece will find a new element even after years of enjoyment.