Jessica Kincaid creates pictorial beaded textiles based on nature scenes and surrealist imagery. As her medium of choice, beading brings an abstract quality to concreate images. She describes the process of creating beaded textiles as “labor-intensive, so it’s a challenge to produce them in large quantities.” Her current work was created using “tutorials on the computers to write code for websites and design objects for the 3D printer. The process of translating colors and shapes into a language the computer can interpret inspired this series of abstract drawings, prints, and beaded works.”
Introduce yourself and describe your work and the media/genre you work in.
I have collected beads since I was eight years old. My beaded textiles have drawn inspiration from dreams, nature, and even working in a school cafeteria. I create these works through careful selection and repetitive stitching of the beads.
Talk about the work that will be on view. What would you like people to know about it?
The patterns in the collages and beaded works came from translating code words into colorful compositions. When I began writing code for websites I learned how to arrange the shapes by matching key words in the code with colored areas on the screen. I experimented with the style tags to change the colors, shapes, and positions of blocks of content in HTML documents.
Imagine a newspaper with three articles on the front page. Next, choose a color for the background, or the paper itself, and a color for the rectangular areas covered by each article. I would change the code and test it in the browser window to see the rectangles move in relation to one another, sometimes including mnemonic clues in the code that referenced the colors. I began drawing with the shapes, and to my delight, the compositions took on the styles of mid-20th century American abstract painting.
I began learning about web technologies in 2014 at the MakerSpace when it was a small booth at the Central branch of the Johnson County Library. I used tutorials on the computers to write code for websites and design objects for the 3D printer. The process of translating colors and shapes into a language the computer can interpret inspired this series of abstract drawings, prints, and beaded works.
What’s the most challenging thing about your creative process?
The process of creating beaded textiles is labor-intensive, so it’s a challenge to produce them in large quantities. But writing code in order to develop imagery presents mental demands that differ from other forms of artistic inspiration.
Who are the other artists you look to for inspiration? And what about their works do you like?
I admire the work of Leah Buechley, Becky Stern and Jesse Seay, who use soft circuits in their art. I admire their ingenuity in combining craft with interactive technologies. That’s something I aspire to as an artist learning computer programming!
When I started to draw geometric compositions with code, I identified them as a form of abstract art. That came from my fondness for American Abstractionist and Color Field painters of the Mid-20th Century, such as Ellsworth Kelly, Josef Albers and Mark Rothko. I appreciate their 2-Dimensional work because they are experimental and playful with color and form.
Most of the books I’ve read lately are technical books and resources for how to make things. I have a copy of Fashioning Technology, a project book for soft circuits by Syuzi Pakhchyan. I just finished reading two essay collections by Ellen Ullman, Close to the Machine, and Life in Code. She was a software developer in Silicon Valley in the 1970s; as a woman working in a male-dominated profession, she could observe it with some distance. She writes about her personal experiences observing the evolution of tech culture.