Veronica De Jesus
Curated by Squeak Carnwath
September 8 – October 15, 2005
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 8, 6-8pm
Veronica De Jesus was born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in many American cities. After attending community colleges in the Sacramento area, she was accepted to the San Francisco Art Institute, where she graduated with honors in 1998. For three years following her graduation, De Jesus showed at the Jenn Joy Gallery in downtown San Francisco. While holding down three jobs, she learned how to read and write braille. From 1999 to 2001, she taught arts and crafts to the blind community at the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco. In 2001, De Jesus was accepted to the Master of Fine Arts program at UC Berkeley. The Department of Art Practice awarded her the Eisner Award twice, once for each year of the program. Upon graduating, De Jesus was granted a year-long residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin, California. She has shown in the San Francisco Bay Area and is scheduled to show in November 2005 at the Linc Gallery in downtown San Francisco. De Jesus is a member of the Sound Shack, a small group of artists dedicated to providing a space for dialogue through sound technology, journalism and visual art. The Sound Shack has performed locally in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is currently working on a project for fall 2005. De Jesus lives and works in Oakland, California.
Squeak Carnwath has been an artist since she was six years old, and an educator since she received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1977. Widely known for her luminescent paintings, her oeuvre also includes works on paper and sculptures in clay or glass. She exhibits regularly in San Francisco at John Berggruen Gallery, in Seattle at James Harris Gallery and in Kansas City at Byron Cohen Gallery.
Carnwath's accomplishments have been recognized with numerous grants and awards, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's 1980 SECA award, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a 1994 fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and a Flintridge Foundation award in 2002. Her paintings are held in museums and private collections internationally. Her work has been the subject of articles in major periodicals, including ARTnews, Artforum, and The New York Times. A monograph with nearly one hundred color reproductions of her paintings, Squeak Carnwath: Lists, Observations, & Counting, was published in 1996 by Chronicle Books.
For most of my life, I've felt more stable while traveling, and less secure while living in a home. Throughout my childhood, my dad, older brother and I were constantly on the move. Long-term housing was a fairy tale to me- something on television - an abstract idea rolling in my imagination. Sometimes I would get curious and want to stay put in one place, yet I would never feel comfortable when we would stop to live in cities for months, or even one or two years at a time.
My dad always made our traveling a fun adventure, which helped ameliorate the stressfulness of the moves. For example, he always filled the trunk with fun stuff to play with. We would stop to eat sandwiches and play sports until we were exhausted, or had to hit the road again. Traveling adventures, like our picnics in the park, are still very much alive in me and are still playing back in my memory.
My transitory childhood spilled in to my adult life and my studio practice. I have made most of my art in precarious spaces, such as hallways, porches, benches, trains, buses, cars and while at work. I have primarily used impermanent materials, which I often find while perambulating through cities for hours and miles at a time.
With perseverance, I have managed to live in one state (California) for over 10 years. Even though I still make art on the go, I now appreciate the stability of having a permanent studio. My studio is like an altar of photos, drawings, writings, personal gifts from friends, and random ephemera I have collected through the years. The arrangement of these memory-laden items creates a space where I feel "at home" and grounded. Like the contents of my dad's trunk, they inspire me to imagine and play, but instead of traveling across the country, I am now traveling inside myself and within the stories of the past. I feel like a tree: I am rooted in one place, yet constant movement, like that of the xylem and phloem inside a tree, exists inside me.
by Squeak Carnwath
The Handed-Down Artist
Our notions about the world are formed in part by what Wittgenstein called the handed-down world. A place and space understood as a given.
Veronica De Jesus presents to us what we recognize. She makes a world familiar to us as our world. The world. This shared knowledge comes from the received or handed-down world. Veronica De Jesus is the handed-down artist.
She questions our knowledge of the world by re-making what is recognized with the use of discarded or thrown out bits of market consumer culture: cardboard boxes, fabric, and grocery bags. All are brought together in familiar yet curious questioning modalities to create what we know and don't know or recognize. The cardboard boxes and grocery bags create a parallel reality. New and old. Familiar and strange. Her work surrounds us with her thought process. We are inside and outside simultaneously. We occupy two bodies at once: hers and ours.
The unquestioned, in other words, the handed-down world makes questioning possible. Questions about being and certainty. "Is this what I know? How do I know? Is it because the knowledge comes from the received or handed-down world?" The handed-down artist understands our shared knowledge. Unlike the bricoleur, who reveals life by selecting materials with an inherent voice and who speaks with things and through the medium of materials, the handed-down artist is a philosopher trying to understand life and given knowledge. The handed-down artist does this by transforming: using what exists married to complex concepts of existence and knowing. For the bricoleur, there is an advanced transmission: the materials and things have a specificity, which hold onto their own memory and history.
Veronica De Jesus' work is about a sense of self, a sense of community: the navigation between the two. The work illuminates our world, the handed-down world: an experience we share with others. In the handed-down world we are all others.