Jaqueline Cedar

Ladies Choice is an ongoing series highlighting female artists working in New York City and beyond. This series honors the power and ingenuity of women in the arts. Women have traditionally received much less exposure and recognition in the art industry. In their support of one another, these women stand as a testament to furthering the careers of female artists.

Jaqueline Cedar’s expansive and colorful canvases tell the stories of her daily experiences in New York. Cedar translates exchanges, dreams, and other sources of visual inspiration into life-sized scenes of virtual realities. The result is a body of work that is at once both strange and distant, familiar and relatable. Cedar lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

You are part of a young generation of female artists hustling and gaining recognition in NYC. What does being a part of a strong female community mean for you?

I’m constantly inspired by my peers and I feel lucky to be surrounded by such smart, engaged, and generous people. The energy and drive of fellow female artists is infectious and having a group like this to check in with makes me feel part of a larger conversation.

Painting by Jaqueline Cedar

Which female artists, living or dead, inspire you most?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a range of media and I’m compelled by artists generally that are unapologetically unhinged in their practice of exploring body, movement, humor, and sentiment – Laura Dern, Martha Graham, Andrea Arnold, Rosemarie Trockel, Huma Bhabha, and Amelie von Wulffen are a few that have been on my mind recently, but the list is always changing.

Painting by Jaqueline Cedar

Have you experienced firsthand the underrepresentation of female artists in the art industry?

You don’t have to look far to see this happening at a range of institutions, but I’m also consistently engaged by the number of spaces that have made it a priority to showcase new female voices. 106 Green Gallery gave me my first solo exhibit in NYC and they’ve continued to be a huge proponent of an amazing roster of artists.

Painting by Jaqueline Cedar

Have you noticed a change in opportunities available for female artists since you first entered the art world?

Hard to say. I am aware of the significant number of powerhouse galleries run by women, which is something I’m excited about and interested in.

If you could change one thing about the current landscape for working female artists what would it be?

I think representation is pretty key right now. More of it – and not just in the context of female art.

Your work often features a recurring cartoon-like figure shown in different forms and scenarios. Can you explain how this trope came to be?

I’d been working primarily from observation or photographic reference and was trying to make a shift toward rendering figures/spaces from memory. I started making a lot of drawings in preparation for larger works and found this stylized figure emerging in the process. At first it was simply the quickest way to achieve this sort of shorthand for gesture and expression. Eventually I found myself exaggerating certain features of the figure as a means by which to add humor or physical direction to the way these characters interacted and moved through the image.

Do the scenes you create on your canvas come from real-life experiences?

Sure, they come from a range of places. Dreams/nightmares, fiction, films, theater, interactions and places I’ve observed/imagined out in the world – often at a distance but sometimes firsthand.

Fabric plays a large role in your work. Can you discuss your interest in experimenting with different material and its role in your overall practice?

For a while I had been working primarily on a heavily gessoed surface and was using that white plane as the lightest point in the image – almost like making a giant watercolor painting. I found myself wanting to explore color and texture in a different way and started sourcing fabrics as backdrops for the paintings. Sometimes I’ll have an atmosphere/texture in mind and search for a fabric to match the image. Other times I fall in love with a material or color and I’m more interested in the chance element of thinking through what kinds of images might exist on this new surface.

In addition to your artistic practice, you also work at museums around the city. What is it like to wear different hats within the art world? How do you maintain a steady studio practice while juggling multiple gigs?

I find my work at museums really fuels the work in the studio. It’s social, it works my brain in a different way – I love the research and being surrounded by art all the time. I also love seeing the variety of ways that students engage with work and making. It’s really exciting to present a problem and be met with a variety of solutions and questions. Teaching definitely keeps me on my toes. Juggling the gigs mainly involves a color-coded google calendar and a drive to make and move constantly.

Your practice has recently extended off of the canvas and into different projects such as design and illustration. Is it important to you to push the boundaries of creating?

Yes, definitely. Discovery and unknowing is a huge part of the pull in the studio. I try to listen to my own interests and intuitions and those impulses guide my focus. I’m interested in chance and I love the idea of letting a new project or collaboration drive the practice in a different direction. I think it’s really important to switch gears every once in a while, and this helps me return to the larger paintings with new ideas and a fresh attitude/perspective.

At the end of every interview, we like to ask the artist to recommend a friend whose work you love for us to interview next. Who would you suggest?

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