Swept Away 2020, 152,5 x 183 cm
Jessica Westhafer (b. 1990, USA) currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She received her in MFA Painting from Indiana University in 2020. Westhafer’s work has been featured in several exhibitions at key galleries including König Gallery (Berlin) and Thierry Goldberg Gallery (New York).

Westhafer’s paintings, however, are not despairing or helpless. They instead celebrate the power of the human spirit. One painting of a figure mindfully focusing on completing a cat’s cradle while surrounded by sodden clothes, rising water levels, as well as fish and some unnerving looking sea creatures, perfectly encapsulates the show’s title, demonstrating how sheer mental willpower and determination can often overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

The works' bold colours and wonky proportions—inspired by the 90’s cartoons and Disney animations Westhafer watched during a childhood spent in front of the television—also imbue them with a degree of satirical humour. The absurdity of some of the situations Westhafer creates pokes fun at the melodramatic act of turning mountains into molehills. Referencing one of her paintings in which a character is being crushed by boulders, Westhafer says “for me, this represented moving to a new city and the pressure I was putting on myself to find a job and to be able to stay and survive in New York. It felt like all these rocks coming down on me, but really, they were small potatoes. The girl in the painting is stressing herself out, but she’s going to be fine.”

The Artbarn
January 15 – April 30, 2022

See work