Top3Tuesday: Jessica Montgomery

Jessica Montgomery

Jessica Montgomery is a Detroit born visual artist who centers her work around ideas of evolution, man, nature, and scientific approaches to the arts. Her current body of work examines the connections between curiosity, experimentation & creativity and their impact on her artistic process. She is currently pursuing an MA in Fine Art from the University of Pretoria. Montgomery has exhibited in the United States and internationally. Notable shows include: Artprize and the Art+Exploration, a solo show in Beaufort, South Carolina and numerous group shows as a member of the Daejeon Arts Collective in South Korea.

She is also in the spotlight for this week’s Top3Tuesday. Let’s take a look at a few of her
favourite things…

3. Edward Burtynsky

Nickel Tailings #30, 1996. Edward Burtynsky.
Nickel Tailings #30, 1996. Edward Burtynsky.

I’m continuously influenced by scientific curiosities, exploration, and current conservation issues. These interests coincide with looking to the environmental photographers and photo-journalists documenting the real world cases of natural plight. One of my favorite photographers is Edward Burtynksy. His work is balanced and composed and is aware that while we need industry and commerce, we must also redeem ourselves through sustainable practices. I marvel at Burtynsky’s portrayal of the man altered landscape. His photos, often vibrant and full of alluring textures, engage the viewer initially with their beauty but allude to a more vicious truth. I find his images of factory run-off the most compelling and exemplary of his work.

2. Biomimicry

Biomimicry design in action: The Eden Project. Rainforest biome. Cornwall, UK.
Biomimicry design in action: The Eden Project. Rainforest biome. Cornwall, UK.

For me, the term ‘Artist as Activist’ is evident through the philosophy, art and design practices of Biomimicry. It can be found everywhere; from galleries around the world to the products under your kitchen sink. And perhaps that is what I truly love about it most. Biomimicry can extend its wings out to numerous problems facing our world today: energy, communication, medicine, architecture, agriculture, transportation, etc. Need to increase the efficiency of a wind turbine? Mimic the bumps and curves of a humpback whale fin and you can reduce drag by 32%. It’s genius and it’s simple.

1. William Beebe and The Bathysphere

William Beebe and Otis Barton inside the Bathysphere.
William Beebe and Otis Barton inside the Bathysphere.

I stumbled across the book ‘Descent’ by Brad Matsen in the 50 cent bin of my college town Barnes and Noble. I must say, without sounding too cheesy, that I was forever changed after reading it. ‘Descent’ chronicles the life and oceanic-exploration contributions of William Beebe. So, why is this inspiring [to an artist]? It’s simply an incredible story. The Bathysphere was launched in the midst of America’s deepest economic depression. Its grandiose-adventure captured the hearts and minds of a generation feeling hopeless and brought about a new wave of popular interest in the natural world. This reverence and awe demonstrated by Beebe is mirrored in today’s newly resuscitated pop-culture interest in exploration, space, and science. Popular filmmakers like James Cameron and private companies like SpaceX have ignited the tinder of common public interest in the unknown and exploration. And I find this interest to be incredibly exciting.

Art and Design is in its own way a mode of exploration. I subscribe to the belief that Art and Science are twigs off the same branch and that viewing them as such can lead to aesthetically beautiful and innovative works.

Check out Jessica’s work on her facebook page.