“A lot of who I am is where I came from,” says Jessica Stoddart, 32, who grew up in rural Tennessee, the daughter of artists. “I was raised in a ‘Little House on the Prairie’ kind of way,” she says, recalling a childhood spent chopping wood and riding horses. “I love tools, but I’m also a girly girl.”
Stoddart began incorporating paper dress patterns into her paintings about five years ago as a way to distinguish her work. “I’m constantly drawn to the masculine and the feminine in everything,” she says. “For me, the patterns seem feminine but have a masculine, architectural feel.”
Earlier paintings depict arrangements of old-style dress forms — an artifact Stoddart was compelled to draw because, she muses, “it’s not human and it’s not mechanical.” Two such vintage mannequins from the 1920s hang out in Stoddart’s studio these days; she still uses them in her work.
Excerpted from The Peculiarity of Knowledge, published in Carolina Home and Gardens Winter 2010