On Crossing is a collaborative work on paper created by two artists who use ritualistic mark making and the exploration of space with fervor in their own studio practices. Jodi Green and Jessica Ann Mills first met in graduate school, and formed a very close professional friendship while working in very close quarters for three years. Both artists have strong ties to geographical areas that have suffered economic downturns due to reliance upon a single industry. In her prints and drawings, Jessica uses small hatched line-work to investigate the poetic beauty of the degradation of Mid-American agricultural architecture and equipment. She obsessively searches for the abandoned by way of the open road. Jodi’s printmaking and performative practices mimic a factory setting, with repetitive stamping, folding and pressing that eventually causes the structural degradation of the work. As a Canadian studying in the United States, crossing and re-crossing an international border became a large part of her life, and subsequently a part of her studio work as well.
On Crossing is an exploration in keeping with the dialogue that was so accessible to both artists for their three years working together, but now is separated by hundreds of mile of highway and a definitive border. The end result of this collaboration reflects the conditions of communication across miles, the ebb and flow of a visual dialogue between two image makers and the beauty and innovation that can surface from ritual.
On Crossing was first exhibited at Graphica Creativa ’09 at the Jyvaskyla Centre for Printmaking in Jyvaskyla, Finland. Participation in Graphica Creativa ’09 was made possible through an exhibition assistance grant from the Ontario Arts Council.
Jessica Ann Mills grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. During her late teens and early twenties she began traveling extensively to different regions of the country, and during this time she began to understand the crisis of identity that she faced as a resident of” the largest city in a primarily rural, agricultural state. To the outsider, what is to be a Nebraskan is to be rural. But to other Nebraskans (ones coming from towns with populations that remained indefinitely in the hundreds rather than the thousands), Jessica was undoubtedly urban.
She took long drives throughout her formative years of college with the windows rolled down, piles of cassette tapes lining the floorboards of the car and a camera on the passenger seat. h was an experience quite similar to one that Rebecca Solnit described of her twenties in her book A Field Guide to Getting Lost: “All those summer drives, no matter where I was going, to a person, a project, an adventure, or holone in the car with mme, ay social life all before and behind me, I was suspended in a beautiful solitude of an open road, in a kind of introspection that only outdoor space generates, for inside and outside are more intertwined than the usual distinctions allow.” Like Solnit, Jessica was endlessly preoccupied by the seeming placelessness of the car because it seemed to echo the same questions she had about her own belonging to a certain place; feeling both from a place and outside a place. The car was a vehicle for her searching, her hard drive failure an issue that continued throughout years of computer usage. One never truly understood the pain this caused.
Jessica completed her Master of Fine Arts degree in 2008 at the Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia. She currently lives in Omaha, Nebraska and continues a steady art making practice.
Jodi Green grew up in an industrial park. Formerly a Royal Canadian Air Force training station, by the time she was born Huron Park, Ontario had become a government-owned experiment: a tiny town surrounded by farmland and boasting a military-sized airport, large industrial warehouse buildings and 350 low-rent homes, it attracted both businesses and workers. Growing up, the routines of the factory dictated the residents’ daily routines as well. The city Jodi chose in adulthood as her home is also a place defined by labour and manufacturing, merely trading in the chainsaw, boat, drainage tile and pop bottling factories of her youth for Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. In his book Landscapes of the Interior, Don Gayton puts forth a theory of primal landscape, positing that the landscape in which one spends one’s formative years imprints in such a way that one can never be truly comfortable, feel at home, in any landscape vastly different from that first one. While Gayton is speaking specifically here about natural landscapes, Jodi believes that her primal landscape is the factory town with its routines, its predictable traffic patterns tied to shift changes, its metallic and burning chemical smells.
Living in Windsor, Ontario, a city dominated by the automobile manufacturing industry inspires an approach to the act of making that thrives on rules, schedules, daily rituals and documentation. Manual labour is implicit in the repetitive acts of printmaking, and rituals, efficiency of movement and repetition are integral parts of Jodi’s daily studio practice. Obsessive layering, filling of space, piling up imagery on top of itself until everything beneath it is buried and destroyed, speaks in part to the endless manufacturing of more and more and more things, filling up our vision with noise and junk, obscuring the landscape: if you explore this city you can find a seemingly infinite number of parking lots and fields filled with row upon row of brand new minivans, overflow waiting to be loaded on a truck and taken away.