TGW Q + A: Experiential Installation Artist Jasmine Grace

Art for Jasmine Grace is about exploring lived experience through the creation of immersive atmospheres and experiential encounters, and her most drastic change in the past two years was relocating to New York City, only to flee home during a pandemic. We caught up with her to see what she’s been doing to cope with the disruption.

TGW: The last 18 months have been a bit of a whirlwind for you. What was it like living and working in New York City? Did you need to have a professional role to enable yourself to work as an artist?

JG: Yeh it has been. I was in New York for just over a year when COVID hit, in the final stages of making an interactive light and motion activated installation ironically about breath! I ended up deciding to head back to Australia. NYC was great fun – you come across so many interesting people and there’s always so much to explore and discover, but it’s also very challenging. It’s a very unpredictable city and living there throws you out of your comfort zone, but in a good way. I initially moved over for a collaborative artist residency – Steamplant with Pratt University – which was also supported by grants. But yes, I did need to also work a professional job – most of which was spent working for international artist Jen Lewin, helping build out and install large scale interactive light installations, which was totally up my alley!  

My most triumphant work would be Horizons for White Night Geelong.

TGW: Are you formally trained in large scale art installation? What has been your most triumphant work to date?

JG:My background was first in visual merchandising and then I went on to study a masters in public art, but most of my skillset I have largely just taught myself and figured things out along the way. My most triumphant work…probably Horizons for White Night Geelong – It’s the largest scale work I’ve created, I think it ended up being around 15m in length and it was interesting challenge for me working with fibre optics as a new material.  

TGW: Your ebb and flow lightboxes are really mesmerising. What was the process like for you to create a single artwork? And you program the patterns from scratch? Do you need to have a super mathematical mind for that?

JG: Thankyou that is the aim! Well it took a while to come up with the initial concept and prototype. Lots of experimentation with materials, compositions and programming patterns and colour palettes. I actually really don’t like coding, I’m not big on maths, but I taught myself some of the basics enough to generate the look and feel of the work, with the patterns and colour palettes I wanted and then I brought in a more experienced programmer (Iain Nash) to re-assemble and sequence it all according to my vision. Now that the coding is done, most of the work is soldering the LED’s and getting all the electronics hooked up, then cutting and assembling the compositions.  

TGW: Do you ever sell your ebb and flow Lightbox pieces as a series?

JG: Yes you can buy 3 works as a series for a special price but that is more something that someone would need to contact me directly about.  

TGW: What are you doing to keep yourself busy during this latest version 5.0 lockdown in Melbourne?

JG: Mainly doing what I can to finish my next body of work refractions for my upcoming exhibitions. I recently started writing for an upcoming arts magazine and had the pleasure of interviewing Rafik Anadol.  

TGW: What shows do you have coming up next? Any regional exhibitions in the works?

I have a few shows coming up with Ebb and Flow starting at Rubicon Ari in Melbourne 28th of July – 14th Aug and then Fringe Design exhibition at Linden New Art, starting September 3rd  and then another show at Hue and Cry in Geelong later in the year.

TGW: What do find most disappointing about this period of your life? And what is the best thing? The disappointing thing about this past year with COVID was not being able to showcase works for events, and shows getting postponed, but it was nice to have such an extended period of just pure creating and experimentation, and I managed to get a few grants from City of Melbourne and Creative Victoria which helped a lot. It also lead me to pivot a little and create these latest ebb and flow pieces – previously I hadn’t really given much thought to selling work for collectors – my focus was once solely on commissions or rentals for events or local government.   

TGW: What do you dream about in the next 5 years, do you see a return to NYC, or somewhere else in the world?

JG: I would love to have a studio team around me, travelling wherever my art leads me. Definitely plan to be back in New York at some point, at least for a short term stint – as I have an installation over there in storage that still needs to be shown!

TGW: We first met in a professional retail setting, what was the moment that set you on the path to becoming an artist, and what did that feel like?

I would say it all stemmed from a campaign I was directing for Myer Melbourne – I initiated a collaboration with artist maryanne talia pau on her 1 million stars to end violence project. This was my first involvement in a public art project and seeing the way it impacted so many people really ignited something in me. Conceptualising all the installations for the project was also a lot of fun – then seeing it all realised was quite thrilling and rewarding. After that I decided to study a masters in public art, where I went on this journey of discovering and really narrowing down on my passions and interests artistically – which lead to a focus on sensory and immersive installations and it all started unfolding from that point really!

Shop from Jasmine Grace’s made to order collection here.

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