I produce both large and mid-scale installations and sculptures out of what I call “femmy detritus”: brash, colorful, and lowbrow materials – including sequins, fringe, and sculpey – conventionally associated with hobby crafts and domesticity. Foregrounding questions of gender, queerness, and their intersections, my work tracks the affective and cultural circulation of meaning through which particular materials – and the bodies with which they are associated – become designated as “trash” and “waste.” Across my practice, I show how these discarded materials can be re-purposed on behalf of insurgent imaginations of queer-feminist survival. I transform materials to animate their sexual and sensual qualities, for example, by crafting penile and labial arrangements that perform and interrupt normative gender conventions. Pointing to the convergences but also the divergences between “disposable” objects and “disposable” people, my work additionally registers the vibrancy of materials and signals how, when transformed, they can take on personalities, behaviors, and attitudes irreducible to human feeling or character. I therefore view my sculptural works as inhabitants of dynamic queer communities that offer new ways of being, knowing, and relating. My work employs a maximalist aesthetic to convey the enormity and messiness of feeling in the face of the political structures that confine queer bodies. For this reason, I tend towards a direct form of address. Indeed, I want my installations to scream at you much like the prototypical 1970s feminist screams at you. In so doing, my work builds on and augments histories of queer-feminist militancy in artistic production.
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Jesse Harrod has an MFA from the department of Fiber and Material Studies from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. She is currently the Head of Fibers & Material Studies at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia.
Harrod’s solo exhibitions include “Low Ropes Course” at NurtureArt in Brooklyn, “Toxic Shock and Hotdog” at Vox Populi in Philadelphia, and “Soft Hardware” at the Arlington Arts Center in Arlington, VA. Her work has been exhibited in numerous group exhibitions throughout the United States. These include the traveling exhibition “Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community,” “Towards Textiles, Material Fix” at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, WI, “Feminism (n.): Plural” at the Women Made Gallery in Chicago, and “String Along” at Antenna Gallery in New Orleans. She has been awarded residencies at the Fire Island Artist’s Residency, the Open Studio Residency at Haystack Mountain School of Craft, the Icelandic Textile Center, the Vermont Studio Center, Ox-bow, and RAIR Philly. Harrod’s work will appear in two forthcoming edited collections: a book-length catalog to accompany the exhibition “Queer Threads” and an edited book published by Publication Studio Hudson that situates Harrod’s artistic practice within a larger historical and contemporary context, with contributions from Jenni Sorkin, Daniel Orendorff, Allyson Mitchell, Laurel Sparx, Anthony Romero and JD Samson..