Suburban Reflections

Jessica Lazarus
Maxwell Library
June 20 - August 20, 2016


Upper Left:
Natural Read
Artist Book, 2012
Bristol. Plexiglass, glass vials, board, natural materials
8 x 10 x 3 1/2"

Upper Right:
Birch Tree
Artist Book, 2016
Wood, mixed media, natural materials
8 x 12 x 2 1/2"


Artist Statement

My passion for artmaking lies in exploring my materials inherent qualities and associations. Through a natural extension of my roles as a fine arts teacher and environmental club advisor, my artwork captures my appreciation and concern for the local environment. My artistic process begins with the collection and investigation of natural materials from the forest floor. The activity of closely observing and learning from my collection has moved me to express my ideas through works of book sculptures and body adornment. Alluvial and manmade materials in books, bottles, photographs and jewelry settings question how the natural and constructed environments relate to one another. In her book, Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, Dolores Hayden discusses the “acceleration of sprawl that has been hidden, ignored, or quietly borne by society.” Culprits of urban sprawl within my works include manufactured plastic and hybrid materials along with crude oil. The dripping, oozing quality of some of this waste offers a grotesque visual appearance while metaphoric associations suggest an encroaching presence. Likewise, this waste’s organic structure moves perception from the realm of disgust into one of beauty. These contrasting ideas of the real and artificial raise broader questions on human value and perception.

A physical connection to body adornment supports the thoughtful exchange between wearer and object. Story books reveal the growth patterns in nature. The book form further alludes to the density of waste found in many locations, intruding upon nature’s presence. My multifaceted art making process allows me to reflect on my own experience and nature’s cyclical energy of growth, decay and renewal. Each artwork reminds me of the often forgotten legacy of fostering and renewing the delicate balance within our natural ecosystem.

Jessica Lazarus
April 17, 2016