Born in Panama and raised in Miami, Jessie Smith-Larson currently resides in Chicago where she has been working as a visual artist and brand designer for the past 18 years. Her work has included projects with the Ritz Carlton, Jelly Belly, and Ohio Art.
Of all the things an artist can paint with, rust is not likely the first medium to come to mind. Nevertheless, it’s the one most drawn to by jessie smith-larson. Rust uniquely allows jessie to capture the themes she likes to express, such as isolation, desolation, loneliness and understanding your place in the universe. A key step of the process smith-larson calls "blooming" turns rust into a workable medium that can be deposited onto specially prepared surfaces. Using a needle on wet plaster, she creates a textured surface for the rust to hold onto. As a result her pieces reach far beyond the expected to tell stories of time, age, dying and rebirth.
In her paintings, sculptures, and installations, the Chicago artist details fossilized stories of humanity. The moments that go unnoticed or become obscured. She excavates them, explores them and brings them back to life using once-buried materials such as her favorite medium, rust. In her large-scale abstract paintings, for example, she applies plaster, ink, and charcoal directly by hand. The end result is an exquisite, complicated story told, much like earth formations, through layers, deep crevices, and blankets of time.
By using decayed metals, Smith-Larson turns playful images into aged allegories, stories that burrow deep and have a lasting permanence. What possibly means the most to Smith-Larson about her art is the idea that she's creating something that will live on long after she’s gone. Just like rusted objects live beyond those who created them. “I am drawn to metals because of the history, the age they create over time,” she says. “I like that wisdom that they have. There’s always an underlying story that’s older than me.”