Interview: artist Jessy Nite explores themes of survival

The sounds of a devoted guard dog can be heard outside the door of artist Jessy Nite’s home studio in Little Haiti. A cream-colored dog, Jane circles Nite before sitting down next to him.

The 34-year-old artist herself is sitting at her desk. Behind her hangs a newly completed tapestry: strands upon strands of paracord, woven, knotted and knotted to form a sentence that seems to float in the air. “I was as you are, you will be as I am”, we can read.

Recognized internationally for her typography work, Nite recently adopted paracord as a new, unexplored material.

Paracord is an incredibly strong material. The name is an appropriate coat rack of the words “parachute” and “rope” – this is the type of rope used in parachute lines and appreciated by the military and hikers for its strength and durability. It’s associated with survival, which makes it suitable material for Nite, who started working on this project during the pandemic.

Like many artists, Nite has seen many of her projects suspended by COVID and found herself with an unusual abundance of free time. The New Jersey native took the opportunity to take a break, reconnect more with nature and reset.

An avid hiker, she spent more time outdoors and playing with different survival knots and paracord. One day, during an informal conversation with a friend, she tied a paracord keychain. The discovery led to experiments with the material until the work evolved into the large-scale tapestries that now hang all around his studio.

Click to enlarge Two or one, one is not - PHOTO COURTESY OF JESSY NITE

Two or one, one is none

Photo courtesy of Jessy Nite

“They all refer to survival,” Nite explains, sipping chamomile tea. “Survival in social environments, in natural environments. They also refer to climate change. Some of the sayings are also common survival phrase sets. ”

“Two or one, one is none,” one reads. “Retreat,” said another. “Again and again.” The pieces are colorful and beautiful, saying one thing literally but meaning so many more.

“If you look back at all of my work, the common thread is not really the medium; that’s the story, ”says Nite. “Most of my text work has a lot of different layered meanings, so [the pieces] are going to have different meanings for different people. They are supposed to do it. “

   Photo courtesy of Jessy Nite" class="uk-display-block uk-position-relative uk-visible-toggle"> Click to enlarge "If you look back at all of my work, the common thread is not really the medium;  this is the story," Nite explains.  - PHOTO COURTESY OF JESSY NITE

“If you look back at all of my work, the common thread is not really the medium; that’s the story, ”Nite explains.

Photo courtesy of Jessy Nite

In 2015, Nite used pills to spell certain words, such as “Serenity Now” and “Chill,” each word or phrase relating to the topic of addiction. His widely photographed outdoor shade pieces, like “Under Your Life, My Heaven” in Allapattah or “The Sun Is High, Me Too” at SoHo Beach House in Miami Beach, all relate to the outdoors.

And now, survival.

Nite’s environment and life stages strongly influence his work. His earlier work focused on the themes of partying and drug addiction, which reflected his life at the time. Now, as those around him struggle to survive, his work has become a self-study of the times, more focused on exploring ideas of nature and community.

“Last year there was definitely the idea of ​​surviving because your life and health are in jeopardy, but there is also survival when it comes to the climate crisis, and social survival is also something that has gone badly. hit last year, ”she said. . “There is a deeper conversation to be had about what we humans need to survive these days.”

The artist likes to create and get lost in his work. She describes her process as meditative, thoughtful and at times exhausting. She adds that some pieces can take her a few hours out of a few days to create, while others require a nine-to-12-hour-a-day month-long commitment.

Click to enlarge Detail of Jessy Nite's work with paracord.  - PHOTO COURTESY OF JESSY NITE

Detail of Jessy Nite’s work with paracord.

Photo courtesy of Jessy Nite

Over the summer, Nite showcased one of his new paracord pieces at a group show at Apollo Plants in the Design District. She is working on producing more works for a solo exhibition later this fall.

Although she took a while to recharge, Nite remained steadfast in creating in 2020. She has worked with local businesses including Boia De, Boxelder, and Palm Film Lab. Earlier this year, she had a public art installation in her hometown of Jersey City, and she collaborated with spirits brand Diageo for an art deco-inspired piece. The piece is part of an installation until December at the Showfields store on Lincoln Road.

In addition to the planned solo exhibition, Nite is working with Miami-Dade Art in Public Places for a full-scale installation in 2022.

“I’m very attached to these pieces,” she says, “and I’m excited to put together a whole new job that no one has ever seen.”

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