Jess Bellamy was born in Whittier, CA and lives & works in Los Angeles, CA. She received a B.A. in Political Science from USC in 2014 and is an MFA candidate at USC Roski School of Fine Arts. Bellamy’s interest in the environment, years spent working at KCRW, and personal and familial histories as a woman of Afro-Cuban and Jewish descent greatly influence the themes and world-making in her work. Predominantly an oil painter, Bellamy also works with image transfer and assemblage, using the familiarity of the Southern California landscape and aesthetics to connect shared visual references, presenting compositions that are dream-like narratives giving form to unseen or alternative possibilities. Her work has been included in thematic exhibitions such as Boiling Point (2019) and Parallel Realities and Unpopular Truths (2020) with Superposition Gallery. She is an active member of The Circuit, a Black Arts Coalition, focusing on academic and art market reform.
Reshaping the Narrative disentangles the parallels between two clashing realities. On one end, California is mythologized as a vacation destination where national parks and wildlife pervade. On the other, it has challenges such as climate change and agricultural reparations, which must be resolved before the passage of time proves to be too late. In communicating these realities, Bellamy employs an image-transfer technique that incorporates photojournalist images from the Los Angeles Times newspaper and uses them to trace the silhouette of a waterfall. In doing so, she places poppy fields next to wildfires, snow-white mountains next to monumental skyscrapers, and crisp-blue oceans next to police officers, hidden behind the nebulous smoke of tear gas.
Previously, Bellamy favored a hyperrealistic painting approach in which she collaged digital images on a screen and reinterpreted their likeness onto the canvas with her brush. In this work, she has adopted a transfer technique that is new to her practice and demands her corporeal attention. The small traces of paper that deteriorate in the process of transferring the images give the impression of minute, fallen ashes. Paradoxically, this method is also much less autonomous. Without a paintbrush to rely on, she must incorporate the political interests of the numerous journalists behind the newsprint photographs. Color, shape, and size are the only components that she can manipulate.
As Bellamy has previously expressed, dystopic and utopic interpretations of the world form part of the same coin. As such, Reshaping the Narrative stands as a metaphor showing California’s more frightful side––the one that is not advertised, that must be confronted, and cannot be modified.
– Nahui Garcia
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Nahui Garcia is an art historian and curator currently living and working in Los Angeles, CA. Her focus of study for the past year has been exploring the representation of people before and after the Independence of Mexico, specifically in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Currently, her research centers on contemporary art interventions as a political strategy against repressive regimes in Latin America, best seen in the work of the Colectivo Acciones de Arte (Art Actions Collective, or CADA) in Chile.
Garcia’s curatorial resume includes the 2019 group exhibition Look Who’s Talking Now, at Human Resources in Los Angeles. Drawing from the work of artists across locations in the US and Latin America, Garcia’s project “… focuses on painting as its principal medium and challenges homogeneity in an increasingly globalized world.”
Most recently, Garcia worked as the Program Coordinator at the Museo Nacional de Arte (MUNAL) in Mexico City, holding principal responsibility for the production of the museum’s public programs, including the exhibition Carlos Mérida. Retrato escrito. She has also worked with Venice Arts and the Getty Center in Los Angeles. She is currently a Master’s Candidate in the Curatorial Studies and the Public Sphere program at USC.