As an artist, Jacqueline Overby initially identified as an oil painter but started exploring sculpture and performance in 2016. In her work, there is often a theme of struggle against a gravitational force of some sort, be it emotional or tangible. An exploration of texture can be seen in her most recent series of needle felted sculptures. This set of abstracted figures are born out of the psychological space created in the artist’s series of performances known as GAEA.

Overby began working in wool fibers the past two years and has enjoyed delving into the practice of needle felting, viewing the process of repeatedly stabbing the wool fibers back into themselves as a sort of cathartic outlet for her emotional energies. This past year she has drawn inspiration from the array of emotional sentiments experienced. Like many, she has been reacting not only to the sociopolitical climate swirling around us all but the quiet terror of her own mental health as a result. Carrying a history of struggle with her emotional perceptions, Overby’s work has often focused on how to deal with such a load. In her new body of work she has broken away from more direct representation of such stressors and began to focus on how one’s sense of humor can serve as a coping mechanism. She has found herself creating characters that embody the facets of being, exploring various insecurities, be it with her own struggles in relation to body image, social anxieties, or even faith in herself . The choice of vibrancy is derived both from the pleasure experienced in viewing the pieces and a fascination with how such hues serve as defense mechanisms in nature. Relishing the ambiguity of shape and what it leaves open to interpretation, be it more of a figure or symbol, and what that means to the viewer. What's more, creating in this way has become intoxicating and a source of deliverance. 

In her past performances, Jacqueline Overby works to disfigure her own persona and take on that of another. She covers her face and body with clay. She physically builds up facial characteristics, devolving into an animalistic, visceral state, and exploring the base “id” level of her consciousness. Overby imagines the earth as mother, and how she would feel in today’s sociopolitical climate and likening it to the artist’s own history of traumatic experiences.  Overby harnesses the energy of her trauma and transforms into the GAEA in an attempt to reach a point of equilibrium. Her performances often include the use of confines, sheeting, or drapery, harkening back to a feeling of suffocation and struggle paired with a sense of safety and comfort.

Her body of work, GAEA, is an amalgamation of painting, performance, and installation. She selects chosen still shots from her performance recordings to develop the active compositions of her photographic collages from which she then oil paints.  

Overby is Influenced and inspired by James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis, as well as multidisciplinary artist Olivier de Sagazan.

James Lovelock is an independent scientist, futurist and environmentalist whose acclaimed Gaia hypothesis postulates that the Earth is herself a living organism. Earth is a co-evolving, synergistic, symbiotic and self-regulating organism that does what is necessary to facilitate life within the womb of her biosphere. Lovelock popularized the term geophysiology, or the study of living bodies. The interconnected web of all life functions together, and all parts are responsible for the health of the whole. The ancient Avestan meaning of the term “Gaia” refers to that of the material sphere, the totality of all creatures, and the concept of life itself.

Accepting this tenet, Overby invites the audience into the primordial darkness, and to embrace ‘’l’appel du vide”, the call of the void. Overby incorporates elements of her living body, and history of her own suffering and trauma. She summons and inhabits a force that she has come to interpret as a Protector, forcing out those predators and turning the tables on those who would seek to harm. The gravitas of such a history of trauma is met with a force that overpowers the horrors bestowed upon her. Predator now becomes prey as her anthropomorphic, earth covered visage mutates and metamorphoses into a terrifying power of wrath and retribution. 

Jacqueline Overby is currently working on expanding her sculptural practice with abstracted psychological forms derived from the psyche space of her performance. The space that has been created from the artist’s performances has begun to serve as an incubatory creative field for the figures that she is currently exploring. Focusing on psychological poses and gestures, the artist attempts to capture these very human emotions in an abstracted figure form, currently being expressed in needle felted soft sculptures. Overby is currently working on taking this sculptural needle felt approach back into her painting and installation practice.