by Thersa Matsuura
The eyes. I’m not sure what I was Googling when I first ran across Jodee Knowles. But I remember the picture and I remember the eyes. The piece of artwork was titled “The Vicious Lightness”, a woman in a dress, looking back over her shoulder, her hair (turban?) a black upward swoop that matched the black of her dress. And the thing you noticed most, the eyes.
I have lived in Japan for the last twenty-two years and am quite used to those big manga and anime doe-eyes that sparkle as if lit by a half dozen different light sources. And I must admit that at first glance I thought maybe Ms. Knowles’ picture was just more of the same. But it wasn’t.
Jodee Knowles’ eyes, while over-sized, are rheumy and old and behind them lies a world of hurt. Long necks, gaunt faces, frowning mouths and crooked bodies. It’s all deliciously dark. But there are also patterns and splashes of color and sometimes you can find something achingly comical or quirky in a piece.
After scouring the Internet for her artwork I learned a little bit about the artist herself. And while I’ll admit it wasn’t much I did glean some information from the interviews and articles. She’s still quite young (early twenties) and yet her fame kind of swooped in, picked her up, and took off.
I can’t imagine what that must do to someone’s head, to be sharing exhibits with other artists one day and then selling out your own shows the next. I can think of plenty of people who have caved under less pressure than that. However, from everything I’ve read and seen she’s not only handling it all with humility and grace she continues to focus on her art and grow with each new show.
I loved her Chimera pieces in the show she had just last October and now I see she has a new exhibit March 10th entitled “One Flesh”. The woman is prolific too. I really enjoy watching her grow and experiment as an artist and look forward to what she’ll be tackling in the years to come. No matter how far she stretches I feel confident I can recognize her work at a glance. She already has her signature style and, of course, there will always be those haunting eyes.
*Jodee Knowles’ Homepage:
*Jodee Knowles interview and Exhibit on March 10th at the Blank Space Gallery:
Thersa Matsuura lives in Shizuoka, Japan with her family. Her book A Robe of Feathers and Other Stories is a collection of short stories about Japanese superstition, folklore, and mythical creatures.