Jessica Westbrook

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Jessica Westbrook

I work with photography, video, motion, semiotics, language, and information design. My projects explore desire, cues, cultural artifacts, and contradictory sensations that vacillate between perception and truth, trust and suspicion, pleasure and poison, domination and submission, consumption and rejection, seduction and repulsion, comfort and friction, expectation and disappointment, fortune and catastrophe. Increasingly semantic in nature and modular in form, I consider my work a section of visual language culled from a complex matrix of assets, reconfigured and repurposed per space and time.

I was born in Pittsburgh, PA in the 1970’s and grew up immersed in my Dad’s disco and nightclub communities. As an architect, consultant, entrepreneur, and addict, my Dad’s priorities lie in the design and implementation of fantasy, escapism, and social experiences that appealed to the most basic human desires. His business endeavors kept my family in flux, moving up and down the East Coast, until we finally settled in the sprawling suburbs of Orlando, FL in the 1980’s. I spent all of my formative years privy to both the nature and business of adult entertainment, and in contrast, the simulated construct of family entertainment branded complexes like Disney World, Kennedy Space Center, and Universal Studios. Like everyone else I went to public school, watched a lot of cable, took in a lot of advertising, and developed my own habits and hobbies - mine included an intense interest in the facts/figures and life/sex/death cycles presented in nature documentaries like “Our Wild America.”
When I was 9 years old I started making photographs and with my Mom’s encouragement, photography became an element of consistency, structure, and interaction in my life (my own language and social device). I believe the forces experienced early on: familial chaos, desire and social constructs, business and simulation, the mediation of nature, and the exploration of images and visual language; continue to influence my thinking and inform my work.
In college I studied art, and went on to receive an MFA in photography from Tyler. At 24 I entered professional life as a web designer/developer in the Baltimore DC metro area during the height of the dotcom. At 25 I got married. At 26 I had a baby. At 27 I ditched the corporate/government mix (and the layoffs, commutes, cost of living, airplane crashes, anthrax, snipers...) for life in Chattanooga, TN, where art, ideas, education, and community could take precedence.

I currently live and work in Chicago, IL and continue to be interested in the intersection of art, design, anthropology, nature, and systems. My work is increasingly motion based and collaborative. Recent exhibitions have included Ars Combinatoria (Orlando, FL), Eyedrum (Atlanta, GA), Hyde Park Center (Chicago, IL), MGFest08 (Chicago, IL), E32 (New York, NY), Livebox at Looptopia (Chicago, IL), Pierro Gallery (South Orange, NJ) / Newark Public Library (Newark, NJ).

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