Image 01: The Tedium of Repetition is a response to the masking of shared trauma in conversation with a loved one. The empty spaces between the flowers are my attempt to capture the humiliation that hangs in the moments of pause between spoken words as two people ignore the thing that hurts between them. I use soft colors to evoke the experience of tiptoeing around difficult topics. Both the size of the image and the floral motif are evocative of vulnerability and the fragility of human life caught in a container.
The Tedium of Repetition, mixed media, graphite, archival ink, watercolor, 4 x 6 inch.
Image 02: Careful, Nature Thinks is a response to the history of violence against women, the often unspeakable thing that lives in the throat: the names of our abusers, the naming of abuse itself, the macro and microarchitectures of our embodied fear, and ultimately, through growth, through healing, of our release. The unsteady line-work evokes metamorphoses, and the thornless rose begs the question of whether some level of cruelty must beget all things.
Careful, Nature Thinks, mixed media, graphite, archival ink, watercolor, 8.25 x 11.25 inch.
Image 03: Remember, Mother is a response to the flow of time subordinated to time’s economic value, and the segmentation of the eternal and non-hierarchical relationship between people and nature. The pink color of the flowers is representative of fertility as a quiet space of nesting in the woman’s body, whereas real chaos makes no noise.
Remember, Mother, mixed media, graphite, archival ink, watercolor, 5 x 7 inch.
Jocelyn M. Ulevicus has a background in Social Work, Psychology, and Public Health. Her work is forthcoming and published in magazines such as Crab Fat, Beyond Words, Dewdrop, Entropy, and Life in Ten Minutes. Ulevicus currently resides in Amsterdam and is finalizing her firstbook, a memoir, titled The Birth of a Tree, which was recently shortlisted for the Santa Fe Writer’s Program 2019 Literary Award judged by Carmen Maria Machado. In her spare time, she hunts for truth and beauty.
Interview with Jocelyn M. Ulevicus
1. How long have you been painting?
Back in 2017, while I was living in Brooklyn, I began writing my first book—a memoir—and at the time, I struggled to break the surface of the truth nesting inside of me. I needed a safe way to explore boundaries and to take risks that felt low-cost. That’s when I started painting. I felt less pressure when I was creating images than I did when attempting to use words to describe a feeling, a landscape, or something dark I’d spent my life hiding from. It wasn’t until recently that I came to know how well the two mediums worked together.
2. Is painting your full-time job? If not, what is?
In 2019, I started selling my artwork with the vision of growing myself as an artist. Commissions over the last year have increased, but painting (or writing) as a full-time gig isn’t sustainable. At least, not yet anyway. But I like juggling different roles. To date, I teach, I work as an editor, and I read for literary journals. I can say I’m pretty happy and find that all of the different activities balance each other out.
3. What inspired this work?
I approach each painting I do as a meditation on previously written work. Each piece in this issue was inspired by various excerpts from my memoir. Sorry to be a tease, but you’ll have to wait until it’s published to read it!
4. What writers or artists inspire you and your work?
Ah, so many! I’m a huge fan of artists and writers who speak about embodied trauma, (gender) performance, and the human condition in their work. Lidia Yuknavitch, Édouard Louis, Mary Gaitskill come to mind… but also Kiese Laymon, Roxane Gay, Rachel Cusk, Clarice Lispector, Audre Lorde, Judith Butler, and the poetry of Adrienne Rich. I am also inspired by the seasons and textures found in nature and, generally, the non-chronological way we experience life. Sometimes, it just seems like we are tumbling through time.
5. Where can we find your recent or future work?
I am in the process of building an artist website. At this moment, though I’m not entirely sure it’s the best platform for visual work, people can find me on Medium and also visit my Instagram. Other work, forthcoming and published, can be found in Entropy Magazine, Dewdrop, Crab Fat, The Santa Fe Literary Review, and Life in Ten Minutes. The memoir I mentioned was short-listed in the 2019 Santa Fe Literary Award Program.
6. What would you advise those interested in becoming published as creatives?
During the summer of 2017, I emailed Roxane Gay and asked her to read an essay I wrote. It was a bold move, believe me, I know. But she wrote back. And I’ll impart the same advice she gave to me:
“… If you want to be a writer, be a writer. Read a lot, write a lot, submit your work, learn from the rejection, submit even more, and always believe that you have a voice worth hearing.”
I give the same advice to writers with whom I work with for various journals. But the word writer can easily be exchanged for artist, dancer, football player, anything. One thing I’ll add is consistency—exercise that creative muscle daily. Write, make art, move that body, every day—repetition is where the magic happens.