Jessi Reaves’s art embodies a critical satire of the modernist canon—and by extension the men who made it—through acts of dismemberment and fashioning. She transforms found objects (chairs, tables, lamps, apparel) and materials (slick, crusty) into sculptures that entertain use.
Reaves arrived in Marfa prepared to work on a relatively slighter scale than usual, with a small supply of fabrics and a dozen wire forms she had custom produced by a lampshade maker. She also brought her small dog, Pam. Reaves immediately amplified her studio stockpile with scrap metal scavenged from the Marfa Receiving and Recycling Center (aka the dump) and T-shirts from the Alpine Humane Society Thrift Store. Abetted by a sew- ing machine and lots of pins, Reaves constructed a group of assemblage objects that she plans to resolve more fully back in her own studio. Some may be wired to become sculptural lamps. These works in progress were also the subject of a series of drawings that look portraitlike given the figurative core of Reaves’s abstraction.
Jessi Reaves (born 1986 in Portland, Oregon; lives in Queens, New York) received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. She participated in the 2017 Whitney Biennial and the 57th Carnegie International, in 2018, which I organized prior to becoming curator at Chinati. Among her current exhibitions is Wild Life: Elizabeth Murray & Jessi Reaves, an intergenerational pairing of rambunctious painting and sculpture, curated by Rebecca Matalon, that originated at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston.