The Need For Additional Support, by Jenni Rebecca Stephenso

Absolutely in the Loop Magazine. by Jenni Rebecca Stephenson

Every day when we get dressed in the morning and look in the  mirror, we face the issue of body image. So ingrained in us, it manifests in our walk, facial expressions and even in the way we relate to others. For personal or societal reasons, we often pair our body’s demand for support with aesthetic enhancement.In fact, some may even say that Victoria’s secret is necessary engineering! But, what is the relationship between support and enhancement really about? What are the motivations and results of this interplay? Attempting to address this question, Additional Support at Spacetaker’s Artist Resource Center features the paintings of Hagit Barkai, body casts from Kelley Devine and the small metal body ornaments of Jessica Jacobi.

All three artists are currently Houston residents, but Barkai’s roots are in Israel.  Both a student of art and philosophy (receiving an MFA degree from Penn State University and a B.A. in Philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem), her work has been shown in exhibitions across the country– most recently, at the Art League Houston. Kelley Devine splits her time between art, motherhood and her entrepreneurial endeavors. She studied sculpture and visual arts at Southeastern Louisiana University and has been exhibited at various shows in the South. Jessica Jacobi is a homegrown Houstonian, having received her training at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Tech University.  She has been exhibited at national juried exhibitions, as well as at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft where she has been in residence.

Recently, we took a moment to ask the trio a few questions about themselves in relation to their art.

What is your biggest inspiration as an artist?

Jessica Jacobi (JJ): I am preoccupied with the relationships we form with our bodies, because it is through these relationships that we perceive the world.  I constantly question our notions of acceptable body conditions and challenge accepted ideals. 

Kelley Devine (KD): My inspiration comes from my life and how I feel about society. Art helps me be honest with myself.

Hagit Barkai (HB):  I don’t think I got over him just yet. In opposition are the bodies around me, the subtle way they express themselves, the evasive ways they convey information.

Who or what has been the most influential to your work?

KD: The people around me are the most influential. Plus, I study many other artists and our environment.  I love feedback!

HB: My teachers, painter friends and lots and lots of paintings have moved me over the years. Different philosophies and feminist writings have also influenced my process.

JJ: Those who are most dear to me play the most influential role.  Observing the behavior of family and friends has opened a window into observing myself. This fuels the questions and subjects in my work.

What’s your favorite part of being an artist in Houston?

HB: The artists and friends I have met here and the fact that I can dedicate most of my working time to painting in my studio. Plus there are so many things going on here, many of which I don’t know about yet.

JJ: Houston’s size and diversity yield a range of opportunities for practicing artists.  There is a welcoming attitude in this city and I find that very motivating.

KD: Houston Rocks!  We have a lot of opportunities to show, learn and work here!

In your dream world, you would...  

KD: Be respected for my work and able to support my family with it.

JJ: Be able to share my work and interests with a large audience, and in turn, be exposed to their thoughts. So far, teaching has proved invaluable for this exciting process.

HB: There are some feminist writers that I would like to collaborate with one day.