Briefly describe the work you do.
“Man is a creature of the between,” wrote philosopher Martin Buber. I mean the figures in my paper menagerie to be guides for whomever will make a binary – between man and woman, flesh and technology, psychosis and sanity, foreigner or native – their battleground. They are bicultural gods, cyborg gods, androgynous and mongrel gods who guard liminal space and paradox. Their bodies are amalgamations of flesh, cloth, steeples, and flame – as if suspended between a multitude of forms and functions.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
Upon learning that ‘spinster,’ ‘goth cowboy,’ and ‘the Sundance Kid’ were not jobs, I decided that being a psychologist was the only work I could ever envision getting paid to do. And I owe much of my knack for the work to my macabre streak. In middle school I became transfixed with Stephen Gammell and Dave McDean’s illustrations… there was something about their aesthetic that made me – a introverted kid with panic disorder and an unhappy home life – feel real. If my work could possibly touch someone lonely like their work touched me – if it could “disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed” as Cesar A. Cruz said – I would be honored beyond measure.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My “studio” is a small table in the corner of my bedroom, overflowing with magazine scraps and old books. I pin half-finished collages like strange, gigantic insects to a few square feet of my wall. It doesn’t resemble what comes to mind when I think “studio,” but it suffices for a broke graduate student.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Queer. Companion. Mentally ill. Parental figure. Activist. Psychologist. Boyfriend. Author.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I am a nocturnal creature. I must steal away time from my studies and clinical work whenever I can, but I feel truly heightened and clear only at night. The absolute best time? When a thunderstorm clatters outside my window, my companion just poured me a cup of Earl Grey, my other companion just lit my cigarette, and the moon is full and bone-white over the Chicago skyline.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
My art has only crystallized into a unique style and particular medium in the past five years, as I began to reconcile and understand myself as a liminal creature. My severe panic disorder makes me frequently dissociate, so I always have one foot in reality and the other… somewhere else. I’m not a woman or a man, but somewhere in between. I’ve been polyamorous since I was 15 – my relationships invalidate the binary between “just friends” and boyfriends. I used to feel damaged for being so often between one thing and another, because I lacked icons, archetypes, or mythos that showed ambiguity and androgyny as something whole and powerful. The desire for such has always been a force behind my work, but in the past five years I’ve begun using art to claim and find company within the experience of liminality.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
My idols are Ray Bradbury, Morticia Addams, Lisbeth Salander, the Ninth Doctor, Dita von Teese, Marsha Johnson, James Dean, and Alexander McQueen. If I succeed in evoking some degree of gothic elegance with my work, it is due to their influence.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I cannot disentangle my need to be an artist from any other area of my life. Artist is not my occupation. I am currently pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology with a concentration in traumatic stress. I hope to eventually sustain myself by providing therapy to violence survivors and LBGTQIA individuals. I am a published queer scholar and an activist. Come to think of it, I have never even taken an art class before! But making these little paper things sustains whatever roles I must adopt by enabling me to channel, sublimate, and engage with experiences that I cannot otherwise make manifest. Like madness. Paradox. Infatuation. Hunger. Ambivalence. If I tried to pull apart from being that creature, I would shatter.
By day, Lorca Jolene is a sleep-deprived but dutiful psychologist-in-training and queer scholar. By night, they are the Dr. Frankenstein of paper collage – utterly smitten with the medium’s potential to create surreal, grotesque forms.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.