Studio Visit: Jessica Bingham


Jessica Bingham is an artist living and working in Illinois.  Her work can be seen in PLEAT's December 2017 exhibition as well as

Please describe your work.
I’d say my work is visually childlike and playful, but has dark undertones about loss, addiction, and nostalgia for childhood. I usually work either in painting or installation and my art is informed by cemeteries I have visited or the neighborhood I grew up in. My paintings are abstracted observations of those visits, focused on the layout of the cemetery, tombstones I found interesting, and the piles of flowers, candles, balloons, letters, and dirt that are on plots or in recycling bins. My installations tend to reference those visits more literally with mounds of dirt, flowers, grass, and even tents and childhood games like hopscotch.

What internal and external factors motivate your conceptual choices?
My personal childhood experiences and relationships definitely influence my work. I reflect a lot on my early childhood development with my friends and family, so I think back to what my bedroom looked like as a kid, who my friends were, what games we played, and even what styles or colors were popular during that time. But it wasn’t until the summer of 2015 that these memories became crucial to my practice. I lost my closest childhood friend to an opioid overdose and became fixated on our relationship as it developed from childhood to adulthood. I reread our Facebook messages often and visit the neighborhood that we grew up in as much as I can, which is across the street from a massive cemetery called Riverside Cemetery. That cemetery was more like a playground for the neighborhood kids, so I became exposed to mortality at a very young age. Visiting cemeteries has now become an important part of my studio practice and I document my visits through photos to use for my paintings and installations.

Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them?
I’ve always been influenced visually, at least within my paintings, by Helen Frankenthaler, Cy Twombly, and Sam Gilliam. But I am conceptually drawn to the work of Louise Bourgeois when it comes to ideas about childhood and psychological pain and suffering. I also love the work of Walter de Maria and Ana Mendieta.

How has social media  affected your studio practice?
I have a love/hate relationship with social media, specifically Instagram. It’s obviously a great platform for artists and has become a useful tool when looking for galleries and residencies. But when I first got Instagram, and I was a late bloomer, I became overwhelmed with maintaining it and often found myself comparing my work to others, so I had to limit my energy there. That being said, I’ve found a lot of artists I admire through Instagram and the community and support from other artists is always appreciated.