Vanessa Jo
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Vanessa Jo Bahr Vestiges Show Picture
“Vestiges”, an MFA thesis exhibition on display at Ohio University’s Art Gallery in Athens, Ohio in April, 2022, consisted of three installations that speak to a life-long obsession with collecting and archiving. This personal ritual was transformed from a habitual action into an intentional part of my art practice; ‘practice’ being something performed over and over again, similar to the art of printmaking itself.

The Archive

the archive cover photoThe Archive

Found natural artifacts
Reclaimed copper shaped plates
Intaglio prints on hand stretched deer rawhide
Displayed on handmade red oak shelves

“The Archive” explores the re-creation of my personal archives, which consist of found natural artifacts through print and installation. These relics are immortalized and repeated through a demonstration of admiration and preservation through replication. The re-creation of these artifacts perpetuates their perceived beauty through their literal duplication; their essence is multiplied and eternalized. The entire collection of artifacts, plates and prints becomes a reciprocal act of veneration. Art can be activism and art-making can be land stewardship if it seeks to give back what is given. The means by which I contribute to this ecological renewal is by forming connections through collecting, facilitated by the union of archiving and printmaking.

The Herbarium

The Herbarium CoverThe Herbarium

Handmade cattail paper
Handstitched intaglio prints on BFK
Pressed found flowers

Preserving foraged plants, making paper and the act of stitching paper by hand requires extensive time, care and patience. The delicacy of materials speaks to the fragility of nature itself and our relationship with it. Engaging in these practices requires one to slow down, consider, contemplate, and respect the way these materials came to be in our hands. It necessitates acceptance of imperfections, anomalies, and chance. Working with harvested natural materials grounds and connects you to place. Not only does it separate you from the capitalistic, consumer culture mindset, it elicits such deep admiration that you become hyper aware of how extraordinary each and every element within your local ecosystem is. You begin to take less, use only what you need, give thanks and collect in a way that ensures regeneration and for those who come after you.
The arrangement on the wall is meant to fill the space from floor to ceiling, immersing the viewer in an environment that displays vast biodiversity and overwhelms them with the notion of small parts converging to create a greater wholistic ecosystem. The wall invites you to search and discover, much like I experience in my personal collecting.

The Reliquary

The Reliquary Cover

The Reliquary

Found natural artifact assemblages
Handmade milkweed cordage
Twine, waxed thread and epoxy

“The Reliquary” encourages viewers to reflect on their own relationships with our plant and animal co-habitants by constructing a space that fosters a deep reverence for the natural world. The effect of this cultivation has the potential to simultaneously rekindle appreciation and inspire conservation through connection with collections. Meaningful interactions with nature can lead to a sense of purpose and fulfillment which ultimately ensures the continuation of our collective well-being and mutual survival.
This collection of assemblage sculptures displays elements of my archive of found natural artifacts that provoke feelings of vast obsession and biodiversity. The act of archiving speaks to human’s desire the categorize, organizing and arrange nature in an attempt to understand and become closer to it. These assemblages beg the viewer to move between them, searching for parallels and patterns among them and their own experiences in nature.