Genevieve Jacobs on Mapping Michael (and a small flock of birds)



I always wanted to try my hand at portraiture, and so when I saw the Martha’s Vineyard Museum’s advertisement for their first “Island Faces Portrait Contest” back in 2012, I decided it would be a great opportunity to challenge myself to do a portrait of my husband, Michael. But when I started to think about exactly how I would depict him, I realized that the mediums I was familiar with (oil paint, watercolor, acrylic, pastel, etc.) were no match for the size of his personality, his uniqueness, his life. It actually started to stress me out, which is ridiculous, considering the whole thing was voluntary in the first place! So, as I often do, I decided to shift the problem-solving from my waking hours to my sleeping ones. And before I knew it, I awoke with the vision of him depicted in the maps of the mountains he’s climbed, rivers he’s kayaked, oceans he’s sailed. Collage proved the perfect way to render him.

Style, and some relief

Piping Plover

Through the years, I started to incorporate bits and pieces of found papers, fabrics, and such into my art. I get a kick out of the unexpected, and I really get a kick out of using some seemingly unrelated element to represent another. Everything is interconnected: the interconnectedness of branching systems such as rivers and neurons, or the folding patterns of the earth’s surface (mountains and valleys) and a garment. I don’t always create using this process, as it’s extremely laborious and physically demanding — as a matter of fact, I am still in physical therapy from the most recent collaged portrait I did: hours of standing up, stooped over reams of paper, obsessively searching, cutting, glueing. It takes its toll. So that’s when the relief of painting some little birds comes into play.


Genevieve Jacobs’ work can be see at Art Gallery, 99 Dukes County Ave., Oak Bluffs;


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