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Jackie Stubblefield at The Art Studio


What do bowling and painting have in common? In both you first learn the technique and then "just let it flow," says Jackie Stubblefield, whose artwork will be showcased in The Art Studio's October exhibit.

Stubblefield just may have a fetish with smooth objects that roll: she is adding playing pool to bowling in her list of hobbies, and her artwork currently features one other similar item.

The egg.

"I just love the egg," Stubblefield says. "The shape and everything. And also what it stands for."

Is this evidence of the influence of Dali in her work? While the surrealist painter utilized eggs as symbols in his work, and Stubblefield does list the Spanish painter as an influence in her painting, along with Magritte and Joseph Cornell, she maintains, "I don't want to look like anybody."

Stubblefield mixes symbolism and realism to serve up a dish all her own. And it features an egg in the starring role. Five years ago she switched media -from acrylic to oil- and style. She had been painting abstract designs but now she centers more on realistic images. "It fits my subject matter," she says.

Why an egg, you ask?

"I kept having this image of an egg and wasn't quite sure what to do with it," she says. She says she was drawn to its beauty, fragility and simplicity. "I kept thinking, it's going to look silly. I finally said, well, you're supposed to paint what you know, you're supposed to paint what you're about. You're supposed to be true to yourself."

Why is the egg such an important symbol?

She uses the image of the egg to depict realistic-style scenes (albeit with an out-of-proportion egg in a prominent position) that are symbolic of her Christian ideals. "I'm a Christian," Stubblefield says. "I want to show the world how view it (Christianity). So many times in the media it is portrayed differently from what most people who I know that are Christians view it....I wanted to show my feelings and what I think Christianity is."

Her artwork will arouse curiosity in her audience and provoke them to thought, "using realism as a vehicle to draw someone's attention and then they see or hopefully get something from it," she explains. "I wanted it (the art) to be something that someone would walk by and then they would say 'Oh. What's this about?'"

The anomaly of a larger-than-life-size egg living in her usually typical, often domestic, scenes catches the eye and the imagination. "The egg is out of proportion to the rest of the painting," Stubblefield says. "I don't always adhere strictly to realistic ideas. It may look like a realistic thing, but the concepts are not realistic." She describes the effects as "kind of dream-like."

The symbolism of her paintings is somewhat surreal, but she explains that the philosophy behind her work is not surrealistic.

So just what does the egg symbolize?

"The egg represents the human soul," she explains. "It's very fragile." She places this "soul" in settings that convey her philosophy. She often couples a door and light to represent Jesus Christ, she says. The Bible uses entry ways as an analogy of Jesus in several instances, including John 14:6, "I am the way..." and Matthew 7:13, "Enter through the narrow gate..." "Spiritual light" shines through the open doorway in many of her paintings. "Jesus says, 'I am the light of the world,'" Stubblefield says, referencing John 8:12.

Once, in a competition, a judge commented that the light appears almost as if it were cotton or a pillow, and this evokes comfort. She likes this observation, as the light does represent comfort, she says. She contrasts the light by using shadow as well. "Some of them (the paintings) are more shadow than light," she says. "I usually have shadow in there somewhere because it's during that shadow that we need the comfort."

In her most recent work, which was not yet completed as she spoke, she employs yet another symbol. "There's a round glass vase and hopefully there will be a teardrop in it," she says. "I haven't got it like I want it yet." Once she perfects the teardrop, it will further the religious analogy. "It's like giving our sorrows to the Lord," she expounds.

Her paintings represent other messages as well. One work features the inside of a house with an egg inside a child's gate in the back room. The gate is open, offering a way of escape to the light. In the foreground, however, the room is wall-papered in apples that have been bitten. This refers to the account in the book of Genesis of the temptation of man. Her paintings pair contrasting elements of shadow and light; anger, vanity and fear versus joy, love and peace; and other poles of human life, emotions and spirituality. Through each she seeks to give expression to the religious ideals that inspire her.

Stubblefield has been a Christian since she was seven, she says, "But I've never been perfect."

She places herself and others, represented by the egg, in tableaus that depict the choices, struggles and blessings that she sees in life. Realistic yet surreal and always symbolic - she molds her ideas into tanglible form and "lets it flow."

Anybody up for a game of bowling?

The Art Studio, Inc. is located at 720 Franklin Street in downtown Beaumont.

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