Jessie Lawson
painting + mixed media
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My work has been greatly influenced by art of the past, from medieval manuscript illuminations to early modern painters such as Matisse, Picasso, and the German Expressionists. I try to learn from the artists whom I admire by echoing what they have done, as a form of homage. They afford lenses through which I can look at the creatures of my own imagination. In the end, my broadest commitment is this: I believe in imagining better worlds, representing them in art, and working to make our own environments resemble our visions.

My late-blooming career as an artist was a surprise, an unexpected gift. A few years before retiring, I began a series of paintings that I have worked on ever since. They feature hybrid creatures that partake of various species characteristics and that are often intensely engaged with one another across the species divide. A dog and a deer share a meal; a cat dances with a bird; a stag lifts up a small possum; mouse-girls wearing raccoon masks lie in bed with their pet cats. These creatures visited my imagination suddenly and vividly. My first such visitor was a white cat in a yellow dress, who inspired a not very good painting of a very compelling creature. I’ve gone on to translate these creatures into other media: collages, shrines, dolls, even a deck of cards. Collectively, they constitute a world that resembles ours but is more joyful, more loving.