Jessica Chao is a native New Mexican artist who earned her BFA in Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico in 2012 focusing on lithography and oil painting. Jessica has been a contributing member of the art community by participating in art shows as well as cofounding the Graft art collective formerly situated in the historic Barelas neighborhood. She exhibited in numerous shows including Harwood Art Center’s Surface Emerging Artist Showcase, 516 Art’s studio sale, and the New Mexico Cancer Center Foundation show Gallery with a Cause, where she received “Curator’s Choice” award given by curator Regina Held.
2018 marks a turn in Jessica’s career when she was invited to participate in a group exhibition Because It’s Time: Unraveling Race and Place in New Mexico held by the National Hispanic Cultural Center museum (NHCC) and curated by Jadira Gurule. At NHCC, Jessica explored large-scale installation and worked with a team to create a politically and emotionally driven piece that was much more personal than previous work.
Jessica’s work consistently reflects the discipline and dedication to trying new techniques, ideas, and challenges. In the last two months, Jessica relocated to Louisville, Kentucky to pursue arts in and around surrounding cities like Cincinnati and Chicago, but plans to include art in her hometown as much as possible to stay connected to the desert.
Jessica Chao's art centers around humans and their psychological states which can be implied through carefully orchestrated narrative moments. The moments are glimpses of past memory or feelings. Mediums such as painting, printmaking, sculpture, and installation are rarely mixed since each material is treated as an avenue to illustrate a specific style that might match the narrative.
Each of these works is intentionally designed to “peculiarize” the familiar whether it stems from pop culture references to iconic figures or political trends in order to draw attention to undercurrents of hidden meaning. Sometimes her work can be seen as humorous to display a satirical approach to explaining scenarios that support the message. Other works are meant to drive the implications of human relationships, our world that includes animals and plants, and larger problems that introduce topics of environmental issues caused by humans.