Habitations · Jessica Kincaid

Habitations is an exhibition of seven major beaded works depicting architectural spaces based upon the artist’s dreams. Kincaid creates her works using seed beads and silk thread in a style termed by the artist as “beaded visionary surrealism.” A pliable “fabric” composed of translucent glass beads of various sizes sewn row by row; her work often contains visionary and surreal imagery.

Utilizing an architectural theme reflective of her dreams to unify the work for this exhibition, Kincaid has created four beaded pieces that depict interior spaces and three that depict exterior views of buildings. The works (all approximately 14 by 17 inches) bear descriptive titles Heaven and Earth, First Grade Self-Portraits, The Building with Hematite Windows, Perfume Counter, Retail Theater, Inner City Brigadoon and Climbing Up Inside the Tower.

“I am inspired by my dreams,” Kincaid said. “I always see architectural elements in my dreams, and I decided to organize the works in this show according to that theme. Each piece is my waking recollection of the setting of a dream, and each is a narrative unto itself.”

Kincaid keeps a journal by her bed, and when she wakes, she records the details of her vivid dreams. “I write down the dream and let the ideas percolate and develop. From there, I put together a visual picture — either a colored drawing or a collage of photographs from which I create a beaded work.”

For Kincaid, her pieces become tangible representations of abstract dreams, and the artist believes the luminous quality of beads is an especially fitting choice of mediums. “The way I work with beads creates a strange, shimmering surface — not opaque,” Kincaid said. “The surface is ethereal — like a dream. It is not solidified.”

In 2006, the Nerman Museum acquired Kincaid’s Heaven and Earth, which uses images from the book of Revelation, such as the Tree of Life and the fountains of the Waters of Life. Kincaid says that Heaven and Earth is based on a dream she had 20 years ago. The dream was so powerful that she considers it a transcendental experience, connecting her to a heavenly realm. “I have always dreamed like that. My art conveys ideas from my dreams. I work 24/7,” she said with a laugh referring to her dream-work cycle.

“I am captivated by the fantastic narratives which provide inspiration for Kincaid’s works,” said Bruce Hartman, executive director, Nerman Museum. “And her ability to translate her dream images through the use of glass beads is extraordinary.”  

Kincaid holds two degrees in fiber — a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the Kansas City Art Institute and a master’s degree in fine arts from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Mich. She has won awards and honors, including a 2007 Charlotte Street Foundation Award, Kansas City, Mo. Her many exhibitions have been locally at Grand Arts, the Kansas City Art Institute, and the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center; and nationally and internationally at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia; Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Textile Arts Centre, Chicago; and Reading Public Museum, Pennsylvania.

A gallery guide with essay by Elisabeth Kirsch, Kansas City based art historian/independent writer, will accompany the exhibition.