A detail photo of Jody Joldersma’s sculpture, “The Birth of the Homonucli,” is the cover of the Summer 2012 edition of the CALYX Journal. An expanded view of the sculpture is included in the full-color art section inside the issue, alongside more images of her work and the work of other women artists. She was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about everything from homonucli to science fiction.
You write on your website about your move to New York, and its basis in your desire to “join the other deviants in NYC.” What compelled your move from New York to Seattle? Is there something about the community of artists in the Northwest that drew you as well?
My mother was a hippie and most of my family worked with the land in some capacity so a spirit of naturalism and exploration were strong in my youth growing up in Pennsylvania. The west coast symbolized the pioneering spirit to me, a fantasy of untouched nature instead of rivers and forests that were decimated by coal mining, pesticides, and mall culture. The grunge movement and a show called Twin Peaks were big when I was young so the Pacific Northwest created a dreamlike vision that resonated with my artist sensibilities. I didn’t plan to end up in Seattle, after NYC I spent a year in Chicago before continuing my migration west. Seattle boasts a community liberal enough to enjoy the arts while also being small enough for it to be easily accessible. While the weather can be daunting at times my quest to find ‘deviants’ has definitely been most successful here.
The cover art for the Summer 2012 issue of CALYX Journal is a detail photograph of your sculpture, “The Birth of the Homonucli.” I had never heard the term homonucli before, and in researching it have realized it’s kind of a fascinating term. How did you first hear the word, and how did it make its way into the title of this work? Did the title come before or after you made the sculpture?
At the time I needed to do a piece for a January show about origins so I played with the tongue in check idea of a fish giving birth to a world tree. I still wanted another element to complete the concept and something I was reading at the time gave me the idea to add the little men in the tree. The book discussed the primitive belief people once held that woman had a passive role in fertility- that a fully formed human existed in sperm, which were known as homonuculi, and that women were just ‘planting pots’ for men’s fertility rather than the equal donation we now understand both parties give chromosomally. I want to say it was Natalie Angier who first introduced me to the term but I can’t be 100% sure of that.
I love your use of found objects in your sculptures, including “The Birth of the Homonucli.” Can you speak to the process that goes into finding and utilizing those objects? Where do you look? How does the idea of re-purposing materials relate to your feminism, if it does?
I check thrift stores, salvage yards, dumpsters, and maintain an array of special objects often given to me that seem viable for future projects. I was quite poor as a child so re-purposing–first to create toys then art–has been a lifetime preoccupation that bought me the world with the only price tag of developing my imagination. In The Birth of the Homonucli for instance I sculpted the fish out of a wire frame which I then covered with Netflix mailers as the ‘skin’ of the animal. The branches were recovered from a yard waste bin, the container the sculpture is in was reclaimed from a salvage store and once was a locker. In our every day lives I think we are often shielded from seeing how much disposable stuff we constantly are both being bombarded with, as well as, help to create. As an artist I seek to balance this problem both in myself and for my viewers. Ultimately it’s about the responsibility of creation, which has obvious implications for women and feminism.
Summer 2012 CALYX Journal
You work in a wide variety of mediums, many of which are showcased in the new journal—what determines whether an inspiration becomes a sculpture or a painting? How does form influence your process and vice versa?
Art is both a very complex form of communication and a simple one. One can share instantly in one visual image what it could take pages to communicate through language. Yet there is no guarantee the viewer will ever understand it. That is the risk of communicating through the visual realm and also the benefit. Each time I make something as an artist I’m trying to share a piece of information I think will make the world more complete even if it is in some minuscule way. The medium I choose is entirely dependent on how well it will work to communicate my vision and also function within the context of where/how it will be displayed.
You mention being inspired by science fiction and since we are an art and literary publication, I’m curious—what science fiction has most inspired you? Are there any books or stories you would recommend to our readers?
There are too many to possibly name. I spent much of my childhood glued to books and it still remains a major part of my life. As far as sci-fi Dune, Ender’s Game, and many Marion Zimmer-Bradley books were early influences. Octavia Butler, Joanna Russ, and Frances Perkins Gilman (Herland) succeed in transforming the sci-fi/fantasy genre into their own unique visions. Margaret Atwood’s books are all spectacular especially A Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake. Kurt Vonnegut, Ken Kesey, Mary Wollstonecraft, George Bernard Shaw, Shirley Jackson, Andrea Nye, Carol J. Adams, Inga Muscio all functioned for me as crucial deprogrammers. Edith Wharton, George Sand, Dorothy Parker, Pearl S. Buck, Lynda Barry, Carson McCullers, Truman Capote inspired me in their honest reflections of aspects of life.
Jody Joldersma is a fine artist and illustrator based in Seattle, WA. She has a BFA in communication design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. She has also worked in the art department of New York Magazine and in Chicago for Northwestern University Settlement House integrating art into the classroom. Her sculpture, “The Birth of the Homonucli,” is the cover of the Summer 2012 edition of CALYX Journal.
Kate Frank, Intern Extraordinaire