J. Stapf "Self Sabotage"
Incubation: Artists in Pursuit of Discovery

J. Stapf "Self Sabotage"

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lithography and silkscreen
edition of 20
12" x 18"

"At the time of creating this piece I was mid-semester of my senior year at art school. I still had access to limestone slabs, all the necessary chemistry and a lithography press. I also had the burning desire to make one more print. I had a strong drive to keep producing lithography editions while I still had access, knowing full well I might never have the opportunity to work in this medium again. These prints were not even relevant to my senior show, which was still in process and to be displayed in just two months. These editions were a break from that. Emotional self parenting was on my mind; as was the criticism I was receiving regarding my lack of willingness to be emotionally transparent in my work. I was contemplating how to portray my life-long ritual of what I decidedly named “self-parenting”. It was difficult to describe, even once I got past my emotional hang-ups regarding revealing personal things. I work with a lot of vintage imagery of women. The source of this image originated with a hilariously disturbing magazine advertisement for “Solventol Household Cleaner” [1946] showing a housewife, beating herself up for ever using anything else. The reason I work with this vintage imagery is because I feel a kinship towards it. There’s no mistaking what these women stand for: housewives, mothers, home-makers, apron wearers, cookie bakers, clothes menders. All qualities that I proudly practice in private, while publicly exhibiting my more masculine attributes. A woman can never be enough, and I didn’t want a man to be strong for me, so I learned to be both."

While assisting at Peter’s Valley I described myself in my assistant biography as “a jack of all trades.” Partially, it was because I was ashamed of my lack of confidence in any one area and partially because I didn’t know what else to call myself. Afterall, there I was, assisting in an area of the craft school that barely had a name itself. I wasn’t a painter, I wasn’t a sculptor, a ceramicist, a glass-blower, I was just a little bit of everything. Arriving at Peter’s Valley campus I was excited. But I also felt like an imposter. I felt like I couldn’t possibly know enough or have enough skill to deserve my place there. One or two of the students teased me, motherly, “master of none,” was the conclusion to “jack of all trades.” At the time it made me bristle with embarrassment and shame. However, it was and is still true. I am a master of none. I’m no longer ashamed of it, probably largely in part because I have gained confidence and possess many more skills now than I did entering my assistantship position. I possess no mastery, but I do possess a burning desire to learn more. That may be evident if judging by my choice to spend a recent summer “vacation” traveling to Cape Cod for the first time in my life... to spend the week in a printmaking workshop. Peter’s Valley was an exploratory journey for me. It was a big and scary opportunity, the awarding of which filled me with both pride and fear. I will never forget my time at Peters Valley, or the inspiring artists and peers I met there. 

J. Stapf, Albany, NY
J. Stapf is an artist hailing from Upstate New York. Stapf earned her BFA from Alfred University in 2018. She works in a range of materials including printmaking, sculpture, fiber, and video. Stapf’s current body of work is informed by memory and personal experience of the home. Prevalent architecture, work by sociological and psychological scholars, and American visual culture all have a hand in shaping Stapf’s ideas. She begins her process conceptually, through research on topics she is passionate about – most often drawing from sociology journals– as well as exploration of themes drawn from her everyday experiences and past. Frequent use of mediums with a domestic history add an additional layer to each work. Stapf strives for a balance between craft and intention. Her work is conceived through a process of research and material scrutiny. She hopes that each viewer has a unique encounter, reminded of their own histories and experiences, when they view her work.

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