Project title: One Year of Buildings
Date Range of work: April 2016-April 2017.
Media: Paper, watercolor, ink + text.
Cities it encompasses: Mostly Austin, with a bit of NYC, Chicago, Seattle, Richmond, and Tulum, Mexico
Project Origin: It began as a part of the annual 100 day project started by Elle Luna, an artist out in CA. Near 100 I was so excited about the change and progress in my hand skills that I decided to push it to a year.
Project Website: jessicafontenot.tumblr.com
Jessica’s Website: jessicafontenot.com/
How long have you lived in Austin and what inspired your move here?
I grew up outside of Houston and rowed crew during high school. We came to Austin for state championships and I fell in love with the city. Once I graduated college in West Texas I found a job in Austin and moved down here. It's been five years! I'm enjoying living in East Austin right now, during this very transformational time for this neighborhood. It feels like something that needs to be documented and so for now I plan on staying and making work about the area.
As someone who is obsessed with learning about and documenting the city, your project carries a lot of personal resonance for me, so I’m curious, how did this project come about?
Whenever I travel the buildings are what I can't get enough of. And even here just driving around Austin, I'm constantly noticing and taking photographs of buildings. I stare at all the patterns and the details that are unique to each one, noticing what objects are next to each other, and the overall feeling of the place. I hadn't attempted the 100 day project with Elle Luna the previous year so in 2016 I knew I wanted to give it a try. Made sense to draw a subject that I'm already obsessed with, so buildings it was.
The visual content of the work has a consistent form: most often singular buildings, typically--but not always--cropped out of context, loosely rendered in ink and watercolor. However within that format, the range is great! For me, one of the memorable runs of images on the Tumblr shows the Ideal Soul Mart, the Mark de Suvero sculpture @ UT, a Hobby Lobby, followed by the Capitol in succession. How do you chose/find your subject matter?
I once heard an illustrator say that a way to be successful in a long-term daily practice is to build rules around it. The composition of a single building, with some surrounding objects included and others left out, was my main rule. At the beginning when it was only going to be 100, I mostly took pictures of buildings around me, from my car on my commute or while I was out. As the project went on, I took pictures whenever I saw something to have a bank to choose from all the time. When reserves were low, I made intentional trips around town to get the ones I wanted. I like representing all buildings, from places of worship to a MetroPCS. Those places, like Hobby Lobby, are a part of our landscape. Not our idealized landscape, but our reality. Whenever I did one like that, of a Subway or a Verizon store, people really responded. It instantly hits everyone. And it's grounding in some way (maybe?) to see a place like that portrayed through an art medium, which is making it more appealing than we all know it really is. Or not, I'm not quite sure haha.