By Kim Minutella
Have you ever looked up at the stars and questioned your own existence? Have you ever felt overwhelmed when thinking about the concept of human life and what it means to be human?
If so, then InLiquid Artist Jessica Doyle might resonate with you on a deep and emotional level, as she is both a painter and a philosopher that searches to define humanity and the self through her portraits. Her work lies on a threshold between the real and the abstract, as it blends both the mind and the body in a study of the human ego.
In other words, you could say that her portraiture has personality.
Currently, Jessica has an exhibition, We Fearless Ones, on display now in the Crane Arts Building. Site Editor Kim Minutella leaped for the chance to interview Jessica, who gave us some insight into her work as well as shared some exciting details about her current show:
Kim: In your body of work, you explore humanity through the philosophies of the self. By focusing on such themes, would you say that your work is like a study on humanity and what it means to define the self?
Jessica: Yes, it is a study on humanity. It has taken me some time to realize what I’ve been doing… looking to understand our human situation through visual interpretation. I have always been curious about people… and really, what it is to be a human. I have always been fascinated by time… past, present, future. When I was a kid, I would write future letters to myself to open years later. I would draw people in their living environments—because I was compelled to. I wanted to understand what people did, and drawing helped me understand others more. I used to think it was just a peculiar thing that I did, but now I still have the same fascination. In my research, I study the ego and the authentic self, so the writing that I do on the self certainly carries into my paintings.
Kim: Your paintings reference the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche. What is it about his philosophies that captured your interest?
Jessica: Interestingly, I didn’t begin to read philosophical literature until 2010, so I didn’t know anything about Nietzsche beforehand. I started to study him in particular about 5 years ago. I felt drawn to his bluntness about humanity–and his discussions on our origins—on how we came to be who we are. He has a passionate way that he talks about the origins of humankind and morality. Once I started reading his work, I felt—first, nervous—because he was breaking apart all that I held life to be about. Then, however, I felt a relief––realizing through his words that we can and should choose to live however we decide. I somehow knew this intuitively, but, reading his breakdown awakened me. He states that we have an obligation to create our selves and our life. This philosophy stays with me while painting—and also, prompts me into moving into the physical act of painting itself.
Kim: Currently, you have an ongoing exhibition on display at The Crane Hall, titled “We Fearless Ones.” Can you tell us more about this exhibition, such as what it is about?
Jessica: The paintings are my response to Nietzsche’s writing. “We Fearless Ones” is based on the title of Book Five of Nietzsche’s book, The Gay Science. The title, The Gay Science, is a translation of Gaya scienza referring to the art of poetry. In Book Five, Nietzsche seeks a spiritualism (or a cheerfulness) with a new form of self-creation. He envisions amor fati: the ability to love one’s fate and become more than one who is to be herded. Nietzsche calls for a belief that life is better than we are told.
The paintings that I am showing in the exhibition depict moments of various points of contemplation. Nietzsche, to me, is an advocate of contemplation—self-awareness—and this is my homage to his concepts. The people or characters shown in the paintings are painted in changing moments of self-awareness…from simple to complex—and back again. So, the paintings are my interpretation of Nietzsche’s philosophy on overcoming the idea of the pre-determined self.
Explore the human ego with Jessica Doyle in her exhibition, We Fearless Ones, on display now at the Crane Arts Building in Crane Hall, located on 1400 N. American Street, Philadelphia, PA. On