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BSDA Artist Interview: Jaclyn Conley

May 6th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Over on Buy Some Damn Art today we launched a series of beautiful, painterly portraits by New Haven, CT based artist Jaclyn Conley. Previously Jaclyn painted on a much larger scale whereas these guys are mostly around 8″ x 8″ and have a simple, singular focus. As Jaclyn says in our interview (below), “these paintings are the result of broad paring down in my studio and practice… As I’m painting I’m distilling an image down to a very small moment.” This is something Conley does very well.


Untitled 6

Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

Jaclyn: I’m originally from Essex Ontario Canada. I’m now based in New Haven CT.

Your process begins with photographs. Where do they come from? How do you select them?

Jaclyn: I’m constantly collecting images. Initially these were photographs and now they are largely jpegs accessed from online collections and archives. As I’m collecting these within a subject group, I’m finding connections or associations between images. I’m responding to some question they present based on the implied context, the composition or other visual feature.

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Untitled 2

In context of your older work these paintings are small and quite simple – in terms of subject matter and composition. I think this makes them approachable and relatable. What do these paintings mean to you? Do they feel different to you as well?

Jaclyn: These paintings are the result of broad paring down in my studio and practice. I’ve challenged myself to present only what it essential in terms of material, image, rendering and scale. Paintings are worked and reworked with a great deal of erasure and reductive building. As I’m painting I’m distilling an image down to a very small moment. This way of working is in some ways more responsive, slow and less predetermined than I’ve done in the past.


Spotted From The Neck Down, 2011

In your interview on Two Coats of Paint you say that you “enjoy the freedom of working from images of ultimately anonymous animals.” What is it about anonymity that interests you as a painter?

Jaclyn: It allows us to fill in the blanks. It means that I’m not transcribing information but potentially expanding it into something else. It’s almost a collage in that I’m taking bits, leaving others out and mediating the image based on my own interpretation. The final paintings rarely resemble the initial source photograph. This interaction presents me with a number of questions and also gives me a lot of freedom.

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Untitled 5

Is the series ongoing?

Jaclyn: I generally work on a series for 3 to 4 years before a visible shift happens. However the content always circles back in parts.

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Untitled 1

I find that artists are almost always forward-thinking, contemplating their next creative endeavor. Do you have other projects in the work? Are there any particular interests or questions you wish to explore in your work going forward?

Jaclyn: I’ve been working with images sourced from Presidential Library Archives. My focus has been the faces of children cropped from within larger crowds of politically motivated gatherings. As I expand my image collections I’m coming across new approaches to the subject. I have some irons in the fire but it’s difficult to know how these will materialize.