We find meaning in maps because they show relationships between a constellation of landmarks and the routes between them. Akin to cartography, I make art to explore and define relationships. I journey between theory and practice, work and play, entropy and order, process and product, analog and digital. I begin all projects with research and contemplation, especially surveying which materials will help me tell the most compelling story.

My most recent series, BodyWork, interrogates the conceptual and material definitions of “body” and “work.” For example, in the diptych Acceptance | Rejection, I use my body to create the most rudimentary form of medical imagery by stamping my paint-covered feet on canvas. While functional, my feet do not work as intended since they are damaged from surgery and cause constant discomfort. Acceptance depicts my feet with gold leaf markings indicating the placement of surgical screws—an echo the Japanese tradition of kintsugi, the art of repairing broken pottery with gold. Rejection indulges wishful thinking by erasing and reshaping my misshapen feet with Wite-Out.

I further explore the relationship between body and work in the series The only choice we get is what to worship., a reinterpretation of the ritualistic meditation practice of abstract Tantric painting. Titled after a quote in David Foster Wallace's This is Water, I explore how my ongoing worship of work has led me to neglect my health. Akin to how people practice abstract Tantric painting for the purpose of meditating on the imagery, my spontaneous creation of these mixed media works using both office and medical supplies is an exercise for me in meditating upon what I choose to worship.


Jess Schwartz is a San Francisco transplant and a Pennsylvania native. She graduated with an A.B. in Growth and Structure of Cities from Bryn Mawr College, an all-women’s college near Philadelphia, PA where she currently serves on the Board of Trustees. In 2018, she will complete UC Berkeley's Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Visual Arts.