Across my practice, I manipulate and transform materials to animate their sexual and sensual qualities and explore the intersections among queer kinship, support, and sexuality. In my sculptural installations, I work with rope as a pliable, linear element that I regard much like a drawing tool, specifically utilizing knot making techniques such as macramé in ways that can be understood as simultaneously restraining and supporting. I am interested in the doubleness of rope as an element utilized within queer sexual play and as a material that conveys how bodies rely upon and support one another, albeit precariously.
Alongside my rope sculptures and installations, bases and supporting structures have long played an integral role within my sculptural practice in order to explore both hidden and unacknowledged material infrastructures that uphold formations of queer community and the sexual prosthetics integral to queer sex. Layering the faux upon the fictitious, my works decompose the opposition between surface and depth, enacting and unworking the relationship between supporting structure and artwork such that the support merges with the surface.
My paintings and video pieces work in tandem with my sculptural practice. Both consider the romances of queer collectivity, even as they point to the complexities and ambivalences of relationality. I view my sculptural works as inhabitants of queer communities that at once cite particular bodies through their formal arrangements and incite a particular spectatorial relation, one which always involves a negotiation with the pleasures and intrusions of hapticity. Similarly, my drawings and paintings involve the viewer in a complex narrative world of queer kinship that is at once erotic and enticing, yet estranging and disorienting.
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 works 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 & 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 “Rope” Hangaram Art Museum, Seoul Korea. Her work has been exhibited in numerous group exhibitions throughout the United States. These include Material Deviance at the SculptureCenter in New York, the traveling exhibition “Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community,” “Towards Textiles, Material Fix” at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, WI, 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 appears in two recent edited collections: a book-length catalog accompanying the exhibition “Queer Threads” and an edited book, “Low Ropes Course”, 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 Sparks, Anthony Romero and JD Samson.