Jess Weems


My work is a constant search for the intersection between belief and fact, the spiritual and the scientific. It is here that humans can find a type of truth that takes us beyond our limiting beliefs and fears, and into new worlds. I see less lines between factual and mythical than perhaps I should as a science teacher, but teaching children has shown me that imagination can be a key ingredient to understanding some of the unbelievable facts of how our universe works. Or, as Madeleine L’Engle once said, “It is…through the world of the imagination which takes us beyond the restrictions of provable fact, that we touch the hem of truth.”
Alterations to the earth never cease. Human activity is continual. Biological and chemical processes and shifting tectonic plates do not take time off. Change is inevitable. Particles constantly vibrate. Information and data are beautiful. Patterns are everywhere. These are the beliefs and facts that influence my creative work.
It is by drawing attention to the aesthetic beauty of scientific data, migration patterns, geological processes, and the scars of highways across the land that I am working towards pushing the viewers outside of their own immediate concerns to see the literal bigger picture of this interconnected universe we dwell in. It is by pushing those viewers to consider parallels between hard science and ley lines, astrology and sacred geometry, that I ask us all to consider the impossible, leave open a door for the miracle, and let go of needing to place everything in a neat box.
The materials I use are primarily natural — beeswax, resin, earth pigments, thread, fabric, paper — and the processes of application are highly physical and technical. I brush on, scrape off, melt down, pour, and layer with the occasional metal object and stitching. Encaustic allows me to mimic weathering processes and create texture in the work. My intentions and my medium work together in these ways.
Albert Einstein believed that he could find the unifying factor of all forces, or a theory of everything. Some say math is the language of the gods. Pop culture continues to come back to ideas of connections in the universe and imagining deep space. I am inspired by these ideas and legacies — inspired to create and visualize the intangible connections of unseen movements and inevitable change.
In her final days, my great-grandmother was asked to tell us a story. She shakily drew a map.
She drew the boundaries of a property near Herkimer, New York and then drew The New York State Thruway cutting it in half. She then told the story of how the highway had split their 72-acre farm when it was built in the 1950s. They had built a large culvert under the highway that provided access to the other half of the property, but she had feared using it because the local deer would charge through it at top speed.
That forever-poignant imagery is what I capture in my aerial landscapes. Every one of us, at the end of our lives, will still be able to sketch with gnarled hands the places that are burned into our memories. I awaken the memories and ask viewers to place themselves in another place and time.
I want you to simultaneously see a place you know and be intrigued by the perspective I have captured. I work in encaustic – hot wax – to create three-dimensional interpretations of the topography of a landscape and then layer oil paint into and onto the wax. Combining these two mediums allows me to ask the viewer to both place themselves in a representational map and to consider the conversation between the land and humankind.
I talk with people all the time about the places that are most important to them and I learn more about humanity’s connection to place through each conversation. If you have a place in your mind that is full of significance and memory, I would love to hear about it. Allowing me to tell your story through a commission deeply enriches the process.
Traditionally, I was first educated to be an agricultural economist and then a science teacher. After graduate school, I came back around to art through reading artist blogs, then attending art workshops, and finally dedicating myself to learning a few mediums through independent teachers around the country. I began teaching art workshops and showing my work during an artist residency in Spain in 2012.
As a creator of fine art, I have dedicated myself to producing archival quality paintings. My work is done on cradled panels that are ready to hang or frame. The cradles and the backsides are painted in a dark brown to seal the wood panel and give a finished look.
Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake, the western coast of North America, and Nevada mining operations frequently capture my fascination when scanning the planet from space. The Black Rock Desert, Edinburgh, and Italy are among my recent commission work.

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