May 26, 2013
Jessica Halonen’s curiosity about the relationship between nature and science informs her abstract paintings and sculptures. In the Driscoll Villa hang a pair of gouache paintings representing stylized portraits of plants used in cancer-fighting drugs. The artist’s research into the long and fascinating history of botanical-based pharmaceuticals led to her ongoing Rx Garden project.
Halonen’s art raises questions about what is natural and artificial, what is healthy and toxic. The radiating, colorful, paired lines that comprise Halonen’s Target paintings suggest diagrams of chromosomes and genomes. The artist’s chalky and “flesh tone” pastel color palette takes a cue from a medicine chest. Painted trompe l’oeil elements and tangled lines introduce chaos into the natural order of her geometric compositions.
The ethically complex genetic modification of plants, and even animals, for contemporary medical purposes also inspires the artist’s sculptures. Her installation includes sculptures made from natural, modified, prefabricated, and industrial materials. The artist’s shredded and compressed medical records comprise a cube sculpture on a wooden stand. Another work made from a looped ball of twigs reveals a variety of tree branches meticulously spliced together with colorful epoxy at the joints. Even the stacked layers of the base suggest a tradition of botany: gathering and pressing flora specimens. Slowly absorbing the forms, materials, and style she incorporates for this exhibition encourages consideration of the science and ethics related to DNA modification for modern medicines.
New Works presents cutting-edge art by emerging Texas artists taking their work in new directions.
Organized by AMOA-Arthouse and curated by Andrea Mellard, curator of exhibitions and public programs.
Jessica Halonen received a MFA in Painting from Washington University in Saint Louis and a BA from Kalamazoo College. Halonen is an assistant professor of studio art in the Department of Art and Art History at Trinity University. She works in San Antonio and lives in Austin.
IMAGE: Jessica Halonen, Target 17 (detail), 2012, Gouache on canvas, 19 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches.