FORM /FUNCTION/ POWER, JESSIE LAINO, LNS gallery, 2019
I know a young gal from Miami,
who challenges notions of vanity
in ourselves and our objects,
she reshapes the prospects
of how we relate to humanity.
– Bill Bilowit
Whether wrapping unruly bundles of hay in plastic, stripping abandoned Christmas trees or polishing a junked muffler, Jessie Laino re-animates the discarded artifacts of her world. By plumbing the emotional relationships she has with cast-off objects, she invites viewers to follow suit, and that inquiry can be transformative. Whether mufflers, ropes, tires, even plastic bags, very few things appear repellent to Laino. They provoke questions. Who discarded this beautiful crimson comforter and why? What late-night conversations did it witness? She develops intimate relationships with the objects she “adopts.” So can we.
Laino’s family story revolves around faux finishing and building – skills she learned from her parents before exploring advanced art ideas in college. Her mom operated a faux finishing business and regularly brought young Jessie to the studio. Her father taught her to build whatever she could envision. Marbleizing was one of the illusions Laino learned to create, transforming a nondescript surface into one of prestige and value.
Captivated by the powerful technology of marble quarrying, she fabricated her own massive block, using lightweight rigid foam. She disguised its surfaces with veining and distinctive tool marks. Now, in the gallery visitors ponder: Did she just find this formidable marble block, or purchase it? Then they discover, no, it’s carved from foam.
As a student, Laino learned to “make something out of nothing,” but generating unsettlingly beautiful sculptures from exploded tire scraps is another matter. It’s alchemy.