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Interview with Artist Jessica Stockholder
"I'm using stuff as I would use a color from a paint tube." We met artist Jessica Stockholder for a talk about why stuff, as she puts it, matters. "I think stuff is a better word than objects for me."

Jessica Stockholder describes her work as "an intersection of pictorial experience with physical experience." Much of her work has a sculptural quality, even if it's hung up on a wall. "I work with a lot of different stuff, but it grows from painting," she explains. Stockholder was interested in painting from a young age. With age, she started experimenting with paint by mixing things into it: "I was making the paint more material," she says. She would also cut up the canvas, spread it across a wall, and introduce objects to the work: "I realised the wall was a frame." 

Materials, objects, stuff. It all plays a central role throughout Jessica's Stockholder's practice. "I think over time I've become interested in what materials mean and the multiple ways they are meaningful." Stockholder knows how many people's minds are actually in the material she uses. There are people behind each object that has been made. "This world, right here, is swimming in stuff. There's all kinds of crap everywhere, all the time. Too much, probably," she says. She continues to give an example of how she uses stuff: "Generally speaking, I like to disrupt the word that describes an object. So, if I'm using a chair in the work, I'm not using it to put it there so that it announces itself as a chair. I'm generally interested in the color of the chair. The quality of the craftsmanship." 

In many of Jessica Stockholder's works, you'll see recognisable objects such as e-waste, shopping carts, and car mirrors. When asked about using these pre-fabricated things, she says: "There are not too many materials in our world that are raw. If you're looking for raw materials, where do you go? What's a raw material?" Stockholder points out that the wood and dirt we'll find in hardware stores, for instance, have all been through the hands of humans: "The raw materials that we have access to is mostly a part of a kit for doing something in the world." 

Jessica Stockholder (b. 1959) is a Canadian-American artist who currently lives and works in Chicago, IL, USA. She is known for her site-specific installation works and sculptures, often described as "paintings in space." She is educated at Yale University, the University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia and the Camden School of Art, London. She has exhibited widely in museums and galleries internationally. Her work is represented in permanent collections of museums, including the Whitney Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; SF MoMA; MoCA LA; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The British Museum, London; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Recent solo museum exhibitions include Stuff Matters and the Centraal Museum, Utrecht and Relational Aesthetics at the Contemporary Austin in 2019. Her work has also recently been shown at Leo Koenig Gallery, New York; Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago; Raffaella Cortese Gallery, Milan; Galeria Max Estrella, Madrid; and many more. 

Jessica Stockholder was interviewed by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen at her studio in Chicago, IL, in February 2023.

Camera: Sean Hanley

Edited and produced by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2023

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling, and Fritz Hansen.