by Kim Larson

Stephanie Jucker is an exhibiting artist who uses mixed media and printing techniques in her paintings, books and art installations. Originally from London, where she earned her BFA, Stephanie has an MFA from Syracuse in painting, printmaking and ceramics. She is currently exhibiting at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco and teaches at College of Marin and San Francisco Center for the Book.


Her recent work is informed by the geometry of insects and flowers, and includes immersive garden-like installations. The spaces she creates seem playful but her use of recycled materials invites you to think about the garden as something a little more complicated – something with opinions of its own about procreation, ecological change, and human intervention.


We are excited to host Stephanie’s work at the gallery this month with her most current works on view at the gallery. 


KL: Hi Stephanie! How have you been doing this past year? Have you found the shelter in place and subsequent COVID restrictions a time of creative abundance or more challenging than regular times? 


SJ: It’s been a really creative time for me. At first there was a lot of pivoting going on like adapting to teaching online. Then I found that without the need to commute to teach in person I had more time to focus on work in my studio. Also not being able to do the usual social stuff left me more time to nurture things at home. I created a little roof garden which has been an abundant source of inspiration, with its new life and insects. I saw a caterpillar turn into a chrysalis for the first time! 


KL: You are originally from London, how long have you lived in the Bay Area?


SJ: I’ve lived here since 1991. I love the climate and the people and feel I can really be myself here. I was never very English to begin with, my mother was from Ireland and my father’s parents were immigrants from Italy and Belgium. 


KL: Looking at your work is like stepping into an enchanted garden. Where do you find inspiration for your pieces? 


SJ: Although I was born in London I grew up in rural Essex near Epping Forest. My bus route to school for 14 years was through the forest, and daydreaming out the bus window all those years left an impression. I used to ride horses there too in every season and that was a great way to observe and feel the cycles of nature. Most of my imaginary play as a child was in our garden, where fairies and elves lived in the toadstools. I think all of that experience became the language of my creativity and where I find delight in things.


KL: What do you hope the viewer will take away from your artwork? 


SJ: I like to leave interpretation of my work open ended, it’s not about just one thing. There is a lot of layering literally and figuratively. I guess I’m trying to communicate non-verbal ideas and feelings, like a visual poem. There are hints as to meaning and hopefully this engages the viewer as they piece things together.


KL: On average, how long does one of your pieces take to complete from sketch to finish? 


SJ: My sketches are very rough and I figure out most of the piece on the canvas as I work. Colour is such an important element it is part of the composition and it evolves through the process. Probably a piece is worked on over a 3 week period, I often work on a few pieces at once. The faces take the longest time and are usually my favourite things to paint.


KL: Who or what are some of your greatest inspirations and influences?


SJ: For me inspiration comes from all directions...the past, my garden, relationships, things that worry me, imagining a future, problem solving. The visual and scientific aspects of the natural world fascinate me, so visits to the Conservatory of Flowers and Botanical Gardens are always an inspiration. As for other artists... I really love Grayson Perry although my work is nothing like his, and designers like Alexander McQueen and Tim Walker. These are all English artists I’m afraid! As an ardent feminist I can’t help but adore the work of Artemisia Gentileschi, especially her painting of Judith and Holofernes. And of course Aubrey Beardsley is brilliant.


KL: What is some advice you would give to artists just starting out or to yourself when you were younger?


SJ: If you’re just starting out I think you learn the most by doing. You need to put the hours in. And that will happen naturally if you really need to be an artist, the compulsion will drive you forward. 

Stephanie Jucker's work is on view at the gallery through May 1, 2021, view her available works hereImages courtesy of the artist and Modern Eden Gallery.


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