Creativity is a spiritual experience and art-making is a spiritual journey. Jessica Howard, the Forager’s Daughter, is a creative artist passionate in creating art forms that draws inspiration from Art Nouveau Movement. Jessica is from the Midwest of North America, whose parents are hunters, fishers, foragers, and gardeners. She is an intense nature observer, which is seen reflecting in her work forms. This fervent artist is skillful enough to form a mystical and spiritual union between the individual self and Nature through her art forms. Her bundle of creativity astonishes the onlookers because she has too many things on her list – Tarot Cards and Seeking Glass Series, which fall under the category of divination tools. Divination, in layman’s terms is a practice that allows one to grasp the greater significance of familiar things or events, transcending the ordinary through meditation and prayer. It is done with a belief of understanding the universal happenings relating it to oneself. Jessica’s art forms suit well for the purpose.
The Forager’s Daughter Seeking Glass Enamels
In this fast-paced world, we often forget to realize that Man cannot rule the universe but just co-exist. We forget the fact that we are one insignificant entity among many, yearning for significance in life. Jessica, the Forager’s Daughter directs her audience to the right place where signification springs from, which is Nature, and she does it gracefully yet fiercely through her art. Jessica uses Nature as her inspiration and art as a means of realizing oneself through inspiration. She believes in the universal connection that human beings have with other entities of the universe, and her art creates the connection for her audience. Though the purpose of the divination tool is to help human beings with Self-actualization and healing, we rarely find human beings portrayed in her work of art, but beings beyond human, those that have equal and more significance than us.
One of her divination tools is her Seeking Glass enamels. The seeking glass enamel series has intricate floral motifs laden with symbolic meaning that feature a variety of flowers and trees like Hawthorne, Poppy, HoneySuckle, White Pine, Goldenrod, Crocus, Ivy, Moonflower, Oak, and the Chrysanthemum. Seeking glasses are often ascribed with powers of healing and protection. Jessica’s seeking glass series mirrors those of vintage enamel glass arts that promote peace and harmony. It comes with a Seeking Glass practices booklet, a collection of rituals that would help us focus, meditate and achieve peace. They could also be worn as neckpieces, pendants that could adorn and spread positivity to oneself.
More than being a piece of decorative accessory, it heeds to the spiritual needs of the soul with their delicate yet profound botanical designs. So, if you are a nature-lover seeking to understand the core of yourself, then this one’s for you. Talismans of focus, as Jessica calls them, helps to generate introspection and initiate the process of Self-actualization combined with meditation and visualization. In Jessica’s own words, “they represent the wholeness of the universe as well as the inner journey to enlightenment.”
The Forager’s Daughter Tarot Cards
The Forager’s Daughter Tarot is one other artistic project which was launched through Kickstarter in 2019. One can see the influences of modern art “art nouveau” featuring the stunning flora and fauna of the Midwest in the 78-card deck. Each card houses a message through a rich depiction of Nature. Every card is a unique piece of work revealing the symbolic significance resonating life events around us. Jessica says she “found things reflected in plants and animals that she (I) was experiencing herself (myself): struggles, successes, drives, relationships,” and as she says, the imagery on her deck of cards is a metaphorical manifestation of life in itself.
We were fortunate to converse with the artist herself and got to know insightful thoughts on her art. Here is a quick run-through of the Forager’s Daughter’s Ideologies on Art and the world.
What is your age? How long have you been in this form of art?
“I’m 33, and I’ve been working primarily with digital art since graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2014. But, I’ve always painted and drawn.”
How do you think that art connects you to the world?
“As an artist, we create content and messages that influence others around us. Some artists have very direct intentions (politically charged work, for example), but I try to take a more subtle approach. I’d like my work to give people the opportunity to reflect on their own place in the world. More specifically, I’ve connected with many people through the tarot deck who live or used to live in the Midwest and share a love of flora and fauna here. That has been really wonderful!”
What in your perspective is the purpose served by?
“My goal with the tarot deck and other works is to provide opportunities of reflection and connection for other people. I’d like them to look more closely at the world around them, but also to contemplate their place within the world.”
How were you inspired to be a divination artist? Do you have any inspirational artist?
“The tarot deck started as a way for me to become more familiar with the tarot card meanings. I’ve always been interested in it, and this seemed like a great way to merge my creative skills and something I wanted to learn more about. It really just took off from there. I really love Art Nouveau, and Alphonse Mucha’s work has always captivated me. I look to him when I’m feeling stuck on something.”
Can you define the distinction between Seeker, Explorer, and Forager?
“A seeker is someone who I view as starting out on their journey; they are picking up bits of information in a casual way. An explorer is something with a clearer destination in mind, so their act of looking is a little deeper. The Forager is familiar with their environment and can now use it to their benefit, combining experience and education.”
So, can I ask, to which category do you identify yourself?
“I would consider myself all three. While I’m familiar and comfortable with some art forms, ideas, practices, etc., I’m still constantly learning and discovering new ways to look at the world around me.”
What change /uniqueness does your art hold in the culture of Art Nouveau?
“Art Nouveau was a movement popular in the very early 1900s. I like to adopt the ornate and delicate forms they used and their idea of uniting the world of man with Nature. In my work, I’ve added my own personal mythologies, narratives, and symbols, along with my own illustrative style.”
Producing art is bliss; what is blissfulness according to you?
“I think blissfulness is being caught up in a moment where you are completely and totally invested in something. It requires your full attention, but everything just kind of flows and feels natural. I feel this way when I’m ‘in the zone working on a piece. “
Do you feel connecting with Nature to be better than the human connection?
“It’s essential to have both. Humans are animals, but we rely on our very specific structure of society and culture to survive. Connecting with Nature reminds me of where I came from and gives me great perspective and often big reality checks. It also reminds me of how ‘human’ I am.”
Where do you draw inspiration from for your illustrations?
“I’ll draw inspiration from things I’ve seen outside, in our yard, out hiking, etc. The current season and the plants and animals that are around affect what gets drawn into my work. I also rely on memories of being outdoors with my family and the things they’ve taught me about the natural world.”
What are seeking glasses, and how do they help in spiritual focus?
“Seeking glass is a term I created for the enamel project. It relates to a few different things, but I was mainly thinking of a spyglass that you use to search for things far away. By looking through the seeking glass, you find something that was missing before and can draw it in closer to you. The pedants function very similar to prayer beads, rosaries, singing bowls, etc. They act as a tool to help focus on something particular and create the mindset needed to achieve that goal.”
Can you elaborate the significance of ‘Pink Moon’ and ‘Worm Moon’ featured in your illustrations?
“These were illustrated created around the different terms for each full moon throughout the year. Each full moon has its own name, usually related to the season. For example, worm moon appears in early spring when earth worms begin to emerge from the ground, and along with them comes the robin.”
What does the repetition of the figure of frog represent? Can you detail to us the significance of fish, parrots, rabbits, and the like?
“Frogs were prevalent in my childhood. We had many toads in our yard, we caught bullfrogs while fishing. For me, frog represents steadiness, alertness, and the ability to travel between our waking mind and our subconscious (because they can move between earth and water). It would take a whole book to list all of the animals and my symbolism for them (maybe that will be a future project!).”
What does this illustration of yours have to reveal?
“The snake represents transformation and rebirth, and I was thinking about the cycle of the moon as it moves from new to full. This is a piece where the elements are loosely tied together by symbolic meaning, but it’s more up to the viewer to create their own narrative.”
‘Amaro Miele’- what does this term mean, and how does it describe the illustration?
“This was a design created for Bottle house Brewery here in Ohio. I took inspiration from the ingredients in one of their house meads. Amaro Miele is the name of the drink. They ended up using the design as the label for the mead bottles!”
What are your current project goals?
“I am wrapping up the Seeking Glass project, getting ready to prepare the packages and ship them out. I’ve got some illustration pieces I’m working on, and am planning to create another card system.”
What are your goals for the future?
“To keep my studio business sustainable and keep doing what I love!”
How do you, as an artist, see the post-pandemic world to be? Will there be any illustration in your future works on this?
“I probably won’t do any work based on the pandemic, as I tend to specifically stay away from politics and current culture. I think the art world was already heading away from the physical gallery space and embracing the world of online/digital art and online sales. I think the pandemic probably helped to enforce this even more. This is a good thing – it means that more work will be accessible to people all over the world instead of sitting in a gallery waiting for people to come by.”
So, here she is, the Forager’s daughter, her art and thoughts on her creations for you to read and enjoy. There is always an interesting story behind every artist. To know how each of us are made with ideologies, influenced by thoughts, inspired by stories at different point of time in our lives is always a self-awakening experience.
The Forager’s Daughter, a young artist in the making!!!
Connect with Jessica