Jessica Wachter: Lost in Translation
December 7 – 31 | Opening reception December 7, 6 – 10 p.m.
Jessica Wachter is pleasant and soft-spoken. As we sit down at ecce gallery to discuss her exhibition of new work, Lost in Translation, she confides that she’s a bit nervous and admits that she likes to let her paintings do the talking for her. As we begin talking about her painting process her enthusiasm takes over, that nervousness falls away, and it’s apparent that her voice and the voice on her canvasses is, indeed, one and the same.
“Every moment leads you to this present moment and, whether you want to admit it or not, it’s coming out on this canvas, and it’s coming out of your knowledge, emotions, and experience,” she says.
Those experiences and emotions are certainly familiar to the local audiences who find her large-scale oil-on-canvas works compelling. Born in Bismarck and an NDSU grad, Wachter creates abstract paintings that definitely synchronize with the visual environment of the state, with meditative colors and uncluttered canvas arrangement that can call to mind the wide-open prairie as easily as they can a well-ordered neighborhood on a wintry night.
What really grabs you about Wachter’s work is its texture. Wachter works in oils, which layer well but take a lot of time to dry. To create the waves and peaks and scratches that lend her work such interest, she spends as much as a year painting on a single piece and has around 20 going at any given time, adding a layer here and finding another color there until each achieves a texture that, in the end, lends alluring dimension and play with light.
These long timeframes also allow her time to add in her own mood and experiences, and the effect is similar to having someone read her journal.
“Friends and family can come up to me and tell me the emotion (in a painting), and it surprises me because I may not have even realized at the time what was coming out. But, that time and that place in my life always comes out,” she says.
“The effect is actually really raw. It’s me, raw and naked on there, and I’m giving you all of me. I think that can be stronger than words and stronger than a lot of things in life.”
Whatever she’s doing, it’s seems to be working. Lost in Translation marks her third solo show at ecce. She has received a number of commissions, including one for a large, 150-foot installation at West Acres and several for works now hanging at Gate City Bank and Starion Bank. Her work also sold well at a recent showing in her native Bismarck. She is nearly a full-time artist, and she chalks up this success to old-fashioned hard work and a dash of luck.
“For me it was very serendipitous. But, It’s a lot of work and people don’t totally see that, and you’re up against the idea that ‘you’re just an artist’ and ’what are you doing, you’re just painting.’ With that, I had perseverance and determination to work hard. I learned to fail, but pick back up.”
Image: Jessica Wachter, Like Ships in the Night, oil on canvas, 64 x 40 in. Courtesy of the artist.