On Thursday, students and faculty crowded into the University of Northern Colorado Campus Commons Art Gallery for the Artist Talk with Jessica Forrestal, who painted the inaugural gallery installation “ConStructs and ConFines.”
To begin her talk, Forrestal explained the education and life experiences that led her to this latest project. According to Forrestal, her education began with her BA in Art at Colorado State University, her MA in Art and Design at the University of Northern Colorado and then finished with an MFA in Fine Arts at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
Forrestal attributes the majority of her current artistic style to her experiences in New York. Forrestal said she became inspired by consumeristic and wasteful culture found in Brooklyn. She also studied and learned from other New York artists, such as Jessica Stockholder, who also created dialogue about consumerism culture through her art installations that utilize everyday objects.
In 2015 Forrestal began to design sculptures made from reclaimed material that resembled nests. This “nest art,” made from recycled material reclaimed everyday objects, but still left Forrestal with a permanent object. Forrestal explained how she still wanted to draw people’s attention to the wasteful downsides of consumerism with her sculptures, while also creating a different type of waste in the process. Therefore, Forrestal began making other commentaries on consumerism such as her video “Art Assemblo,” in which she creates a satirical film highlighting the commercial downside and patriarchy in present in the art world.
“Maybe my work alters that conversation you have about recycling in your own life,” said Forrestal during her talk.
Once Forrestal finished her Masters at Pratt Institute, she began drawing her influence from the Bauhouse Movement, which focuses on art for the masses as well as a commentary on the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. This inspiration led Forrestal to the black and white wall murals she installed at the Campus Commons. In order to eliminate the permanent objects created by her previous work, Forrestal began creating black and white pictures with an ink pen on paper. From these paper sketches, Forrestal then creates her large black and white wall murals, each by hand.
Since moving to Colorado from New York, Forrestal has installed these large wall murals to draw people’s attention to consumerism without leaving behind anything permanent. Forrestal mentioned working on a paneled wall installation at the Arvada Center and an exterior wall mural on the Children’s Museum in Denver in 2017.
In 2018 UNC staff asked Forrestal to install a wall mural in the largest space that she had ever worked on, the UNC Campus Commons. According to Forrestal, the shapes objects found in “ConStructs and ConFines” are based off of DNA and everyday objects. These organic shapes allow people to interact with her murals while also inspiring them to use objects in abstract ways they haven’t thought of before.
While working on “ConStructs and ConFines,” Forrestal split her time teaching art to children at High Plains Elementary in Boulder, Colo.
“There is a huge component of freedom and the creative process when I teach so that they can learn the rules in the future,” Forrestal said.
Forrestal’s “ConStructs and ConFines” will be available for anyone to view and interact with until March 30.