Interviews About Dee Haughney
World | 29.12.2020
We sat down (virtually) with Jessica Michelle Le Roux, a visual artist born in South Africa and based in Heidelberg, Gauteng. She’s currently practising sculpture and interdisciplinary art, providing art consultation services for both private and corporate sectors across South Africa, specializing in the placement of collections, advising on commissions, providing custom framing guidance and restoration advice.
Here is an intimate account of her and her artistic journey.
Tell us about you! – profession, where are you from and based?
I am Jessica Michelle Le Roux, a South African visual artist, practising in sculpture and interdisciplinary art. My studio is based in Heidelberg, Gauteng, South Africa. I also provide art consultation services for both the private and corporate sectors across South Africa specialising in the placement of collections, advising on commissions and providing custom framing guidance and restoration advice.
When did you start creating art and your experience along the journey?
I have always held a compelling need to want to create things, enjoyed a wild imagination and held a keen interest in expressing ideas visually. Later in life, I realised art enabled me to connect the intangible world to the physical world. My brother and I were very fortunate in having family around for the later part of my childhood living on a farm with my Grandparents. My great-Gran would visit a few times a year, and I loved gifting drawings. My Great-grandmother, who we referred to as GG, would fill the walls of her home with all of her great-grandchildren’s carefree drawings treating them as real works of art. When she passed on, a pile of whimsical drawings were returned to me, quite the finality that moment was. I will always remember how our expressions were enjoyed by our dear GG, my graceful Gran and still enjoyed by my Mother, who knew being an artist was the way forward for me.
Pursuing a career in the arts is most certainly a challenging decision, it’s also a tough calling which is hard to ignore and time is needed to truly make an artist. I was very blessed with my Mother firmly believing that studying arts was the best way forward for me, and she gave up everything to enable that. Growing up in rural communities in South Africa on nature reserves in the Cape and later, on farms in Limpopo entailed an entirely different understanding of the arts. At the age of seventeen, I enrolled to study Fine and Applied Arts at the Tshwane University of Technology. I had no idea what door I was unlocking and the grasp across faculties and art history my studies would enable. In my experience, my studies gave insights into the endless possibilities and meaning within art, how art is needed within society for numerous aspects, and how artists trigger change within society throughout the history of time. I have fond memories of the enlightening, challenging and hard lessons I learned during my student days. Many artworks were destroyed and reconstructed, days were spent learning the ins and outs of every power tool available with Renier Le Roux on a Tuesday until we were the last students to leave campus in the early evenings. Carl Jeppe, a fantastic figure drawing lecturer, had such amazing energy, his iconic phrases pop up frequently when I work on forms. Runette Kruger taught me the value of patience, the creative process and detail in the ceramic studio. Andreas Schonfeldt helped me find how I developed my mark-making, rich textures and abstract touches that form a part of the surreal scenes within my subject and atmospheric landscapes. Jan van der Merwe played a pivotal role in understanding the conceptual development of art, studio practice and inspiration.
What makes you proud of your career choices?
I much enjoy a challenge, interactions with people and synergies. I have gained much experience in the retail gallery space, helping patrons of the arts with their collections and providing end to end solutions for the corporate sector. I have stayed sincere within my practice in not being solely reliant on my art practice for bread and butter in the onset of my career as an artist. Concept, materials, technique, skill and intent are critical ingredients within my practice that take years to understand, develop, and master. There are many different types of artists with room for each and everyone in the world. For me, I find a healthy balance between the ‘artistic realm’ and the ‘working world’ has been stimulating and has enabled my studio practice to develop into what it is today.
In 2019 I stepped down from managing galleries and into art consulting for a boutique management firm. 2021 has enabled me to focus on my studio practice and provide part-time consulting services. It has been proven repeatedly that it is essential for an artist to stay true to their work, and for each, the recipe to get there is unique. I feel that my career path has been so ideally guided thus far, and I am looking forward to the journey further.
My Current Research:
My work ponders on life experiences, observations and interactions. I am always blown away by each interaction’s timing. Everything that happens to each individual is like a drop in the ocean which creates a ripple effect of other happenings, interactions and ideas. These moments often provide us with vital life lessons, and if we learn to listen to the subtle cues, we grow. I am fascinated by these connections, which has always been the muse within my practice.
My thesis was based on psychoanalysis within symbolism and compared Carl Young and Sigmund Freud’s theories during studies. Psychology and the emotive response has always been a facet of study within my practice. I am currently researching art therapy and art as therapy to gain a better understanding of how phycology, philosophy, and experience are linked. This research is to enable further self-awareness within my practice and better express and interpret the concepts I wish for others to engage with.
One of the bodies of work developing from the research can be described as atmospheric landscapes. I have always experienced a strong connection to nature, and feel God’s presence within this realm which naturally triggers an emotive response. The idea of consumerism, how single-use plastic has become the norm and that landfill sights are just so accepted is genuinely shocking. It’s almost as though the human race needs to learn how to reconnect with the earth, which I hope to evoke through these surreal works.
In late 2020, digital artwork creation led to looking at sustainable art production methods which involve less waste and use of less toxic materials. I came across the process of risograph printing which I will be introducing as a new media within my practice in 2021 with the first editions available in February. They are affordable prints and hold a beautiful textural quality. The process of printing with risograph is the most ecologically friendly with no harmful emissions, minimal waste and use of soy-based ink.
On the business side of things, I have been kept busy with several commissions. Later this year, I will be launching an art consulting brand paired with an African inspired design range. If you would like to be informed and keep up to date with general news and developments, you can subscribe on my artist site www.jmlr.co.za. The brand and service offering will be announced on this platform in the months to come.
About Jessica Michelle Le Roux is part of the column “Women” dedicated to the women involved in the art scene on and about the African continent.
The aim of the column is to give space to women – in or connected – to the continent’s art scene. A space in which experiences, opinions and realities can be read and loved by everyone, focused on women and their empowerment.
If you know of any woman that should take part please invite her to get in touch. Thank you, we appreciate your contribution.