Review & Commentary on Greater Rochester’s Ever Expanding Visual Arts Scene

By Dan Scally


Weaving Myth and Origin

Works by Jappie King Black, 1990-2014


Twisted and interlocked, the large vines seemed to grow from a heap on the floor to create a human-like form. The smell was of natural fibers and earth. Mysterious doll-like creatures and masks woven of grapevine and wisteria bark conjured up spirits of the past. There were fragmented vessels of bronze and colorful baskets. Both my subconscious mind and senses were engaged on many levels when I encountered in two different galleries the work of Jappie King Black. Her work was shown at a recent Arena Group Show at Gallery r in Rochester and more recently at her one-person show at A Different Path Gallery in Brockport.

Photography by Richard Black- "Three Figures"

Photography by Richard Black – “Three Figures”

Her sculptural works at the Brockport gallery displayed the depth and range of an artist at mid-career and are woven through with two decades of three-dimensional exploration. Earthen elements that are Jappie’s creative muse are regenerated, reformed and given second life.

Photography by Richard Black- "Birdman 2"

Photography by Richard Black – “Birdman 2”

Her sometimes ambiguous and thought-provoking works could easily be interpreted as the remnants of some lost culture or tribe – or possibly the subtle reminder of past lives. Her bronze baskets and vessels could be the artifacts from an archeological dig.

I spent a few hours with Jappie at her Past and Presence exhibit in December discussing the origins and inspiration for for her craft as well as the varied processes she uses to create. At first glance, her references to the natural world seem obvious. However, digging deeper, many of the seventy-six works in the Brockport show seemed to conceal some mystery beneath the surface – perhaps a myth or message to be realized by the viewer. Less obvious, I think, are the references to a spiritual world of both the past and present. Jappie’s work contains elements of change and rebirth as well. All of the work in the show tied together in a cohesive exhibit that spoke eloquently to the spiritual power of Art and Craft.

In her own words:

“The sources of ritual art in so-called “primitive” cultures have always interested me. I lived in Argentina and Mexico for a number of years. My Latin American experiences continue to influence my work as an artist.”

“The trees in the woods behind my house in Brockport are being taken over by the wild grapevines like kudzu in the Deep South. I collect vine and bark, harvesting it all year, to use in my sculptures and installations. I have been working developing a series using my hand-stitched and coiled baskets. The baskets are cast in bronze using the lost-wax method to produce one-of-a-kind pieces.

Photography by Richard Black - "Large Lace Weave Rough Fragment"

Photography by Richard Black – “Large Lace Weave Rough Fragment”

My work has changed and evolved over many years. I primarily use fibers and mixed media to make things. When you look at my portfolio you should see recurring threads.”

As Jappie states, “Like most artists, the concepts behind my work are personal. However, I expect my work to speak about nature, metamorphosis, loss and the handmade object.”

Jappie is a veteran of regional, national and international exhibitions as well as a two-time exhibitor in the Western NY Finger Lakes Show. She is also a member of the Arena Group, a premiere contemporary art group in the Rochester. Her education includes an MFA from Syracuse University in Fibers, with an emphasis in Sculpture, a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, in Textile Design. She is also a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, Interlochen, Michigan and a graduate of Ateneo Fuente, Universidad de Coahuila; Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico. She has also worked as Assistant Professor, Fibers/Fine Arts Department at Kean University in New Jersey from 2001-2010.

Her recent creations show a few distinct directions: fiber weaving, sculpture, monotypes as well as the lost-wax method of bronze casting used in her vessels. Jappie King Black’s site-specific outdoor installations range from work at The Seymour Library in Brockport, the Byrdcliff Arts Colony in Woodstock, NY and The Stone Quarry Hill Park in Cazenovia.


Jappie King Black
Photography by Richard Black - Jappie in her studio

Photography by Richard Black – Jappie in her studio


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