Jessica Plattner, daughter of artist Phyllis Plattner, was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1972. She earned a BFA from Washington University School of Art in St. Louis (currently the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts), and an MFA from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and Temple Rome, Italy. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Mexico, as well as scholarships for artist residencies at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has been shown in the USA, Canada, Mexico, and Italy, with recent solo exhibitions at the Art Gallery of St. Albert, the Okotoks Art Gallery, and the Esplanade Art Gallery in Medicine Hat. She currently teaches art at Medicine Hat College and maintains a studio at the Hive Artists’ Hub. She lives in Medicine Hat with her spouse, artist Dean Smale, and their daughter Sofie.
As an American artist who has lived extensively in Mexico, the USA, Canada, and Italy, I am interested in international borders and their political, social, and environmental impacts. My work is also influenced by other literal and metaphorical boundaries: the paintings themselves cross various artistic borders to establish residency in a no-man’s land between fact and fiction, natural and manufactured, past and present.
Since moving to Alberta five years ago, my work has used the local landscape as a meeting place for contrasts. In my paintings, military planes defend and violate geopolitical territories, while wild animals and birds unknowingly cross these borders. Environmental disasters appear side-by-side with tranquil scenes, and native plants and animals meet with invasive species from around the globe. The paintings also contain painterly and formal contradictions, such as representation coexisting with abstraction, and flat colour giving way to deep space. Trompe l’oeil depictions of tape and paper appear to stick to the surface, occupying a completely different reality from the rest of the canvas. These contradictory treatments of paint, space, and imagery all come together to form a complex visual world with multiple possible interpretations. In the end, my work bridges the border between anxiety and hope: fears about war, climate change, and political disarray are balanced by the wonder and immediacy of the visual world, allowing for meaning even in dark times.