Jacqueline Surdell

Jacqueline Surdell (b. 1993) was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., where she currently lives and works. Now the third largest city in the US, Chicago’s history of industry, labor, and midwest grit plays a significant role in Surdell’s work. Surdell’s Polish Grandfather worked in the steel mills in Hegewisch (a neighborhood on the south side of Chicago) while her Dutch Grandmother is a landscape painter. The dichotomy established between manual labor and conceptual labor influenced Surdell at an early age. Listening to stories of the mills — the operation of massive blast furnaces, chaotic melting pits, and subsequent injuries, was complimented with memories of frolicking in wildflower fields while her grandmother painted the colorful landscape. The combination resulted in an early-developed arts view where life and work, body and labor, industry and craft, and the high-brow traditions of plein-air landscape painting, merged. 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, employing her body as a weaving shuttle, and her hand as brushstroke. Moving in and out of the warp, with pounds and yards of industrial rope on self-made mural sized looms. Although her material is fiber, her approach is painterly, manipulating her medium with knotted layers, reducing the material to open the structure, draping to create volume and texture. Surdell approaches her studio practice with the meticulous precision of craft and 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 work to 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 labor, history, and power. Jacqueline Surdell received her MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2017; in 2015 she received her BFA from Occidental College, Los Angeles, California. Her most recent project was Score!, a solo exhibition at Devening Projects, Chicago, IL. Other recent solo and small group exhibitions took place at Library Street Collective, Detroit, MI, Patricia Sweetow Gallery, San Francisco; Kunsthal KadE, Amersfoort, Netherlands; UW Parkside, Kenosha, WI; Antenna.Works, New Orleans, LA; South Bend Museum of Art, South Bend, IN; Apparatus Projects, Heaven Gallery, Western Exhibitions and the Chicago Artists Coalition, Chicago. Jacqueline Surdell lives and works in Chicago.