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A Boston Young Contemporary: Debra K. Jayne


Debra K. Jayne received an MFA in 2014 with a focus in painting and printmaking from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University. She lives in Boston and Hanover, NH. Our contributing editor William J. Simmons first came across her work at the Boston Young Contemporaries show, closing shortly at Boston University's 808 Gallery.

William J. Simmons How has working in Boston affected your work?

Debra K. Jayne It has affected my work intensely. I enjoy the contrasts found in the city and its architecture. Boston’s rich urban environment includes older European-style architecture as a backdrop for English gardens and wide boulevards, but it also contains contemporary architecture and urban design. My work focuses on the latter. The vibrancy and youthfulness of the city invigorate my work, but they also lead me to focus on quieter moments and liminal spaces. The question of where reflections/space start and end, as well as what is "real" space versus imagined space, intrigues me. I enjoy inventing and embellishing architectural space.

Debra K. Jayne
South Essex on the Sea, 2013
Acrylic on canvas
36" x 46"

WJS You are trained in both painting and printmaking and you've explored a variety of compositional styles, from the abstract to the figurative. What advice would you give to artists who want to work in a similarly interdisciplinary manner?

DKJ My advice to artists is to explore and experiment with various techniques and ideas, and then follow your convictions. Learn from your mistakes and take advantage of them. You never know when a disaster can be turned on its head. Each discipline informs the others; knowledge learned in one area should be brought into the new medium.

WJS You are a founding member of Two Rivers Printmaking Studio. How does your interest in community-minded art-making and art education influence your work?

DKJ Collaboration is inherent in printmaking. It allows one to work with a community of artists. You share facilities, presses, brayers, ink, etc. Close contact with other artists cross-breeds ideas and generates innovative work. Printmaking is a great way to build camaraderie, thoughtfulness, and flexibility. Even artists with opposing styles can learn from exposure to each other.

Elisabeth Vellacott
Chesil Beach, 1952
Pen and ink and wash on tracing paper
361mm x 540 mm
Courtesy Kettle's Yard Gallery, University of Cambridge

WJS Some of your prints in particular remind me of the work of the British artist Elisabeth Vellacott in their unique use and re-use of patterns as their foundation. What compositional strategies drive your work?

DKJ I enjoy Vellacott’s work and especially appreciate her visual analysis. I, too, like to experiment with patterns and re-invent ideas. I think that comes from my printmaking background. I view a potential print as a puzzle to be solved. When I was a child, my grandmother and I used to set puzzles together. The process of ordering disconnected pieces into a coherent image is similar to how I compose a painting. Preliminary small sketches are vital to my final paintings. I experiment with composition, use of space, color, etc., before I execute a larger piece of artwork.

WJS What is next for you?

DKJ My plan is to continue painting and printmaking. If another medium finds its way into my work, so much the better. I have a residency lined up at Vermont Studio Center in November, which I’m excited about, as well as some teaching at AVA Gallery. I plan to be involved in the art scenes in Boston, the Upper Valley, New England and beyond.

More of Debra K. Jayne's work can be seen on her website debrakjayne.com
Boston Young Contemporaries is on view at Boston University's 808 Gallery for two more days. It closes August 22nd.


About Author

William J. Simmons is a contributing editor of Big Red & Shiny, as well as a Ph.D. Candidate in Art History and Women’s Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His recent work can also be found in Artforum and ArtSlant.

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