Looking to the classical nude form as inspiration, Jessica Lichtenstein explores modern representations of female depictions. Her tree nymph series offers an emotional lens through which to examine sensuality, spirituality, and the connections we have with nature. These works were inspired by the idea of seasons- not just the four seasons that we experience each year, but the seasons that we go through in life, and the cycles that we as humans experience.
In interviews she has stated, “Recently I’ve become fascinated by the idea that we are all fledgling buds, blooming from a tree, reaching towards the sky and trying to grow and evolve. But we all have different journeys. Some of us cling to the tree for support, others leap or jump from the tree freely; some find their comfort in the shade of their companions, while others gain confidence from their solitude; some are extroverts flaunting their sexuality, while others like to hide in the shadows. To me the combination of every girl on the tree represents the huge range of human experience and emotions, and more specifically the gamut of emotions that accompany being a female in world based on perfection, beauty and transience. They are all ornamental flowers, figuring out their paths through life, growing, falling, jumping, evolving, teetering on the edge, yet they are simultaneously being judged, critiqued, loved and worshipped by the outside world, who like the viewer, closely examines and gazes upon them through the thick circular lens.”
Lichtenstein was highly influenced by early master painters; scenes that harken back to a time of “female as muse” where females were juxtaposed alongside these lush, beautiful landscape. Yet in her pieces, the nudes actually form the landscape, reinforcing the notion of Mother Nature, of a female landscape that gives birth to the land. And the fragility of that landscape as it freezes, melts, falls, and yet is born again, year upon year.
In her recent solo show, “Eclipse.” Lichtenstein took inspiration from the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse, the first of its kind in 170 years, visible over the entire U.S. country. Strangers gathered on street corners, parking lots and grassy expanses to look — through goggles — as the moon passed over the sun and, for a brief period, blocked it from view. “It seemed like a changing tide, a rebirth of some kind, a spiritual awakening,” Lichtenstein said.
“I decided I really wanted to play with new materials: gold leaf, silver leaf, palladium leaf…materials that are really celestial in nature, and really play with the idea of shadows, and emerging from the shadows. We all have these shadow selves, the faces that we show the world and the faces that stare back at us in the mirror. Yet in the face of this cosmic event, something so much larger than our planet, it was hard to hide your true self, hard not to see the humanity in all of us, and this small blue ball that we share and need to protect.”
Lichtenstein’s wok is already in some of the homes of the most important art collectors, and held in private collections all around the world. She graduated Yale in 2001, and currently lives between New York City and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.