Jacqueline Surdell

Jacqueline Surdell was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She received her MFA in Fibre and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2017. The City’s history of industrialism, labour, and Midwest grit plays a significant role in her tri-dimensional work. Surdell’s Polish grandfather worked in the steel mills in Hegewisch while her Dutch grandmother was a landscape painter. Those close familial memories influence Surdell’s complex terrain between art-making, body, sanctuary, and spirit. From childhood through college, Surdell was a competitive athlete. She approaches her studio practice with a disciplined resolve forged in the intense, repetitive, realm of competitive sports. Her years as an athlete primed her interest in repetitive, laborious, craft-based practices. Building her wall sculptures demands full body action as the body becomes a weaving shuttle and the hand a brushstroke. Although her material is fibre, her approach is painterly. She manipulates her medium with knotted layers, reducing the material to open the structure, and draping to create volume and texture. Surdell combines the meticulous precision of craft with the unbridled spontaneity of contemporary painting. She reimagines the woven canvas as a space of undulation and growth. As the expanded histories of painting materialize in her work as content, simultaneously, swollen tendrils and textures of bound rope deny illusions of the classically painted picture plane. The works actively bridge the division between painting and sculpture. In this way, her work calls into association other binary categorizations such as rigid and collapsed, construction techniques coded as masculine or feminine, and ontological spaces between body and sculpture. Her energetic and materially grounded practice brings to attention the tools, environments, and actions that contain and display performances of labour, history, and power.

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