Visiting Assistant Professor
Jessica Tam creates large-scale situation-specific paintings that stem from popular sport and entertainment, and evolve into immersive fictional environments. She uses the professional wrestling ring, a site of one of the most marketed and repetitive of entertainments, as a platform for storytelling and invention in her work. For example, a suite of her paintings and series of mutating images will collectively transform the ring into a fantastical arena of serpents, sea creatures, and stormy weather.
At the start of a global pandemic, Tam began to reconsider crowds of people and the power of the collective as more than simply a large physical mass. She has altered the perspective in her work from the viewpoint from outside the ring looking in to inside the ring looking out onto the crowd. Tam’s latest painting series uses the Chinese phrase “ren shan ren hai,” or a “human mountain” and “sea of humanity” to shift the perspective onto the arena’s spectators, and imagine the crowd as a torrential force that is potentially powerful in both threatening and uplifting ways.