Jessica Camp did not set out to be an artist.
“I wanted to be a veterinarian at first,” said the 24-year-old artist, who recently received an honorable mention in the 56th annual Delta Exhibition on display at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.
She is one of five artists with ties to the River Valley & Ozark Edition coverage area to be chosen for the annual show, which features works by 65 artists from Arkansas and surrounding states. The other four local artists are featured elsewhere in today’s edition.
“I’ve always been a creative person, but it wasn’t until high school that I realized making art is the only thing I can do that really makes me happy,” Camp said.
Camp’s work in the Delta Exhibition is an installation piece titled Weeping Lamentation.
It is made of small hollow beeswax shells tied together and hung from the ceiling by embroidery thread and blue string. Beads are also spaced methodically throughout the piece to help create and maintain the shapes.
In addition to the honorable mention she received from the show’s juror, Brian Rutenberg of New York City, Camp also received a Contemporaries honorable mention. Contemporaries is a group of young members of the Arkansas Arts Center who wish to expand their knowledge and appreciation of the arts.
Camp, who was born in Carrollton, Texas, the daughter of Jim Camp of Fayetteville and Donna Camp of Conway, is a 2008 graduate of Conway High School. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in painting in May 2013 from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.
Camp credits her aunt, Dianne Johnson of Dallas, for sparking her interest in art at a young age.
“She always came to visit us and would bring my brothers (Matt, 26, and Kevin, 23) and me fun art projects to do while the adults would chat in the other room,” she said. “I became fascinated with creating something out of nothing.”
This year was the first time Camp had submitted her artwork to the Delta Exhibition.
“Receiving two honorable mentions for my work was amazing,” she said. “I’ve always been one to second-guess everything I do, as an artist and in real life, and being recognized for my hard work felt awesome. It gave me the reassurance I needed that I’m on the right path. With the exception of my solo show in Lubbock, Texas, I’d only been in school shows before, so this was really nice to be recognized for my work in the Arkansas art world.”
Camp said Weeping Lamentation was the centerpiece of her senior art show at UCA.
“It was inspired by the music of St. Vincent,” she said, noting that St. Vincent is the stage name of Annie Clark, a contemporary musician, singer and songwriter. “It’s inspired by her song ‘Grot.’ It’s a grunge-rock song.
“I became obsessed with the song, and that prompted me to create my work around the music. I asked myself, ‘What does ‘grot’ mean?’ I found multiple definitions for it, and one of those definitions was ‘weeping lamentation.’
“The more I listened to the music, shapes started coming, and … the notes created a flowing shape.”
Camp said she used beeswax to create the shapes because of its “golden light.
“I used about 98 pounds of beeswax,” she said, adding that she also used some other kinds of wax to create different colors.
Camp wanted the viewers of this installation to have “an overwhelming kind of experience,” she said.
“I wanted it to be big and impactful, so I hung it from a 16-foot ceiling [in the Baum Gallery of Fine Art at UCA],” she said. “Visitors had no choice but to look at it.”
Camp said she made an A on her senior show at UCA and received exhibit honors.
Weeping Lamentation measures 192 by 79 by 79 inches and hangs from the ceiling of the Townsend Wolfe Gallery at the Arkansas Arts Center.
Camp continues to create art while working full time as a visual merchandiser at
Forever 21 retail store in Little Rock. She is also a painting instructor at Pinot’s Palette in Little Rock.
She said she eventually plans to go back to college and get a master’s degree in art education.
“I want to help people by becoming a teacher,” she said. “For the longest time, I thought I wanted to teach on the collegiate level, but the more I think about it, I think I want to work with young students.
“But that’s a ways off. I want to travel before I do that.”
Following her senior art show at UCA, Camp had a solo show in June 2013 at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts in Lubbock, Texas.
Camp said she will be apprenticing with internationally known environmental sculptor Patrick Dougherty of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, during September at UCA.
This year’s Delta Exhibition will remain on display through Sept. 28 in the Townsend Wolf Gallery of the Arkansas Arts Center at Ninth and Commerce streets in Little Rock.
For more information, call (501) 372-4000 or visit www.arkarts.com.