Through her latest installation, Savannah artist Jessica Knapp is exploring the quiet strength of her femininity.
Originally from New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Knapp has moved to Savannah twice. Her first time, she came to the Lowcountry to study art at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). She was a part of the second graduating class in the field of industrial design.
After her SCAD graduation, she took a dream job and relocating to New Jersey where she designed toys for a company. But Georgia was on her mind.
“My memories from my college days and the many things I could do and enjoy with very few resources were the things that kept me thinking of Savannah,” Knapp said. “In New Jersey, I was working so hard but was left with very little time to do all the things that I enjoy.
“Savannah’s art community was another one of the reasons for my return. There are many cities, but Savannah makes you feel as if you’re a bigger part of things and that you’re included. When you are creating is this city, the support and inspiration can be found everywhere.”
Knapp is also one of the founding members of The Savannah Sweet Tease, a burlesque troupe that travels globally performing and competing. Knapp helps with costume design, set design and artwork for promotional purposes. While creating for the troupe, her artwork takes an unfamiliar feminine tone, which was foreign to her.
“I am exploring femininity now under my own terms,” Knapp said. “Might be that I am a mom now. Growing up I was what most considered a tomboy. I was tough and raised in the woods. The color pink was hated and detested. I had a rat-tail as my hairstyle. See, I saw femininity back then as a weakness. I wanted to be one of the boys. I never wanted to be rescued and I would do anything daring and everything that was risky just to prove how strong I was.
“Now, I understand this quiet strength women possess. I have learned to embrace and love pink and all things that sparkle and glitter. This right here is my proclamation and embrace of all things considered girly. That’s what the show is all about. I am calling it ‘Sugarcoated.’”
“Sugarcoated” is a mixed media show that is hanging for a limited time at The Gallery Espresso. It marks a new beginning for the artist.
“While I began creating pieces for this show, I was in the process of moving to a new house,” Knapp explained. “I used materials like nail polish and leftover plastic from other projects, as well as glitter. I framed some pieces with up-cycled frames, and I purged a lot of unused materials that I have been carrying around while creating this show. It was cathartic.
“One of the themes of the show is me personally dealing with me being nice and polite to people when I should not have. Learning how I needed to take care of myself before I could take care of others. My take was: If it doesn’t serve you why bother? ‘Sugarcoated’ is me telling you there is not really a nice way to say things when the other person is just really wrong. I am telling you that what you’re doing is dangerous and why would I tell you in a nice way. Am I going to make the impact I need to make?”