The Art of Jessica Brilli
The enclosed body of work was inspired by 35mm Kodachrome slides and generations-old photographs that were gathered from locations across the United States. Through my experience of painting and sharing these photos, I have found that there is something inherent in them that speaks to many Americans, whether it be a photo taken at a pool party in 1965 or of someone’s mother standing in front of the family car—we insert our own lives into these scenes from the past.
I view thousands of slides and photos to find the ones that moves me emotionally. I’m constantly on the hunt for photos that mirror scenes from my childhood, or that I feel a connection to through personal or familial experience.
The suburban scenes I paint reflect my own childhood in New York on Long Island. The cars proudly displayed on driveways, the meticulously manicured lawns, inviting neighbor’s pools, and 1960’s architecture were the backdrop of my youth. Though I don’t live in this setting anymore, I still feel a significant connection to it.
This process of photographic research, and painting the essential scenic components, is very personal. I’ve realized, however, that my experiences are part of common thread that many Americans share regardless of age, race and gender. The images that produce a flood of involuntary memories for me often evoke similar cascades of feelings and thoughts in others. Why is this?
Another angle I’m interested in exploring is the effect of color on memory. When looking at vintage photography, I see the color as a built-in time stamp. Different types of film age in various ways because of unstable color dyes—the faded color scheme adds a Gestalt effect that evokes these nostalgic feelings. Most of my paintings take place in the past before I was born. The photographs that inspire me act as my window to the past, and in my own case these photos color my impression of the past. Through these paintings I’m engaging with the past, and bringing along the view for the ride.