Con Edison Immigrant Artist Program Newsletter, Issue No. 4

Con Edison Immigrant Artist Program Newsletter, Issue No. 4

Featured Artist: Jessica Kaire

Immigrant Artist Project had the chance recently to interview Featured Artist Jessica Kaire. Here’s what she had to say:

IAP: Tell us a little bit about yourself

JK: I’m the product of immigrant Syrian Jews, the Guatemalan civil war of the ‘80s and a North American education. The role of art has transformed from an instinctive language into an engine for revisiting my background as well as a means to break free from my comfort zones. I explore basic needs such as esteem, love, belonging and safety through an object-body relationship. Currently, my main focus is transforming art spaces and artworks into therapeutic ones for myself and the viewers, who in turn become users.

IAP: What’s the story behind the “Confort” series? What does it have to do with Guatemala, where you’re from, and New York, where you live and work?

JK: "Confort", pure anglicism, represents a fictional brand of objects that are meant to offer a sense of protection for the user/buyer, the same way a safety blanket does for a child. The project speaks of a culture that has learned to adapt to violent climates instead of reacting against them. Even though New York’s issues about safety are of a different character from those of my hometown, I begin to see a strong resemblance in regards to people’s response and how easily, say a year from now, walking through a full-body x-ray machine at the airport may become as casual as breathing.

IAP: Describe the experience of moving to the US: When and why did you come? What were your initial impressions? What was most difficult? Did you know you wanted to work as an artist here in New York?

JK: After interrupting my education and leaving New York in 2003 due to a raise in tuition at Hunter College, I returned to Guatemala. I began to get involved in the local art scene and to develop close relationships with other Guatemalan artists as well as showing my work at spaces such as 9.99/proyecto, XVI Bienal de Paiz and Centro de Formación de la Cooperación Española. These experiences and connections became a strong platform for maturing as an artist.

In 2008, I became a US resident and relocated to Brooklyn. I chose New York because of its urban infrastructure and high rate of artistic activity. Having been raised in an environment with strong influences from the US, the cultural shock was somewhat less intense. My struggle has been most related to maintaining the strong bond that I have with the Guatemalan community through live chats on skype and facebook while building new relationships here.

Visit Jessica’s website:

Images: Top, Jessica Kaire, Plush Knuckles (from the CONFORT series). Photos by Eduardo Benchoam.
Amy Aronoff
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