Profile: Jessica Drenk Artist Last Update:April 7, 2018

Montana native Jessica Drenk (b. 1980) received her MFA in 3D Art from the University of Arizona. She is a recipient of the Artist Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and the Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Centre, among other awards. Her work is also in corporate and public collections including those of Fidelity Investments and the Yale University Art Gallery.

Drenk’s biomorphic sculptures push everyday materials such as gauze, toilet paper, cotton buds, pencils, and toothpicks to their point of organic saturation, where they begin to simulate organs, micro-cellular worlds, and geological stratifications. Yet Drenk is just as concerned with switching the direction of organic flows, such as when she converts slim cuttings of wood pine into a digital matrix of binary code. Other creations involve shaping books into fossilized records of geologic life, or using waxed book strips to create an extended cerebellum, thus relying on the brain’s cognitive faculty to ‘read’ and ‘interpret’ its own aesthetic disembodiment or lobotomy. Invested in interrogating organic/inorganic distinctions, Drenk states, “On a long enough time scale, there is no difference between manmade and nature.”

Astarte Rowe, curator

Selected Work

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Wave 4, 2015 Cerebellum (detail), 2015 Porcelain Skin IV, 2012
Soft Cell Tissue 54 & 55, 2013 Reading our Remains 28, 2015 Implement 44, 2015 Procession 23, 2011


By transforming familiar objects into nature-inspired forms and patterns, I examine how we classify the world around us. Manufactured goods appear as natural objects, something functional becomes something decorative, a simple material is made complex, and the commonplace becomes unique. In changing books into fossilized remnants of our culture, or in arranging sliced PVC pipes to suggest ripple and wave patterns, I create a connection between the man-made and the natural. In my installations, I combine these seemingly opposite concepts, presenting my artifact-like wall sculptures and 3D objects in small collections of our own natural history. My interests in archaeology, paleontology, biology, botany, and geology influence not only the shapes and textures of my sculpture, but also lend a visual framework for creating, collecting, and classifying my own specimens of the present.

Jessica Drenk

Links / Updates

Selected Publications

East Valley Tribune, April 24, 2009: full page article on installation at Mesa Contemporary Arts
Tucson Weekly, July 24, 2008: review of Conrad Wilde Gallery Book-Art Object Catalog, Belgrade, Serbia
University of Arizona MFA Thesis Exhibition Catalog, 2007
Sculpture Magazine, October 2006 issue: description and image of work
The Albuquerque Museum, Biennial Southwest Exhibition Catalog, 2006
The Albuquerque Tribune, October 5, 2006: review of Biennial Southwest
University of Arizona College of Fine Arts publication, Transformations, 2005
KUAT-TV “Arizona Illustrated” PBS interview and review of Residual Pull, 2005
KUAT-TV “Arizona Illustrated” PBS review of Arizona Biennial, 2005
Pomona College Magazine, Winter 2003 issue

Artist’s Websites