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A Visit to the Studio of Jessie Mott

As she heads to the Whitney Biennial, the young artist talks about her paintings of shape-shifting mythical creatures.

Artist Jessie Mott in her studio   Photo: Ratko Radojcic

Ask Jessie Mott, a recent grad of Northwestern University master’s program grad, to describe her shape-shifting paintings of mythical creatures, and she says that, as a queer artist, she just wants to capture the anxiety around sexual identity. “They are more than one thing, not male or female,” she explains.

At the Whitney, Mott will show her chimera-like drawings in a video installation by Steve Reinke.

Do all of your deer drawings have bright genitals and breasts?

I have a children’s book that just came out. I was careful not to include any genitalia in that.

Do you like kids?

Children make me nervous actually, but I really love their imaginations. The way I draw is pretty much like a child. I make things up as I go along.

Did you make that deer mug?

No, it was a gift. I’m easy to shop for—Madonna and animals. Those are my favorite things.

Like, Madonna memorabilia?

Yeah, I have a real problem. Magazines with her on the cover. I have 500 of them. They’re in the garage.

How did that happen?

Madonna was the love of my life when I was a kid. She was everything. I begged my mom to get me the Sex book when I was 12. I joined the Madonna fan club. Through the fanzine I met lesbian pen pals from all over the world. This was before the internet, and it changed my life to have access to all of these people.

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