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Beneath the surface

SPACE, “Weird fashion” and 3D collage in Jesse Draxler's latest project

One of the greatest things about collage is the pleasure of shredding something into pieces and putting it back together again, completely transformed. That’s what 31-year old artist Jesse Draxler does, also pushing originally flat medium towards 3D.

Born in rural Wisconsin, Draxler is now based in Minneapolis. He started creating collages five years ago and now has an impressive portfolio of works which are weirdly sexual, visually challenging and teeter between aesthetically pleasing and disturbing. He deconstructs the classic idea of beauty by spray painting Ancient Greek statues, spilling link on fashion pages and isolating body parts. All Draxler's collages are created by hand, and evoke the idea that there is something hidden beneath the surface.

Earlier this year Draxler was included in The Age of Collage, a showcase of the foremost collage artists of today published by Gestalten. He’s also curating a show in Minneapolis at The Gallery at Fox Tax together with four graphic design exploring the theme of space.

Dazed spoke to Draxler about "weird fashion", 3D collage and his upcoming curatorial show, SPACE.

DD: Do you usually work from an image in your head or is your method more spontaneously? 

Jesse Draxler: It is constructed along the way. I may initially see a line, or a cut, and from there it progresses. There’s always a particular mood I want to inject into the viewer. The rest is figuring out the best medium and mode of execution to do so. 

DD: How do you produce your collages and is it a crucial choice? Which tools and materials do you use? 

Jesse Draxler: Up until recently every aspect of my work was done by hand and this is still mostly true. I just started playing around with some after-scan tweaks, but I'll never not be using a Xacto for all my cutting. I'll always have the need to create tangible things. Digital art is something I am stepping towards getting into, but not collages in the traditional sense, I never want to create something digitally if I could have done it by hand. The digital work I intend to create will quite obviously be digital, otherwise I don't see the point.   

DD: Do you work a lot in fashion?

Jesse Draxler: I do editorial work for magazines, brands and independent designers. Not long ago a friend of mine said something along the lines of "fashion is just weird for weird's sake," kind of derogatorily - but I loved it. I do know that designers have a concept behind their fashion, but I think a lot of it is just trying to do something outrageous, that just looks cool. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but at least it's fun to look at - I can relate to that.

DD: Tell us a bit about the upcoming show you're curating? 

Jesse Draxler: It's called SPACE and features 5 artists working between the lines of fine art and design showcasing different takes on the idea of SPACE. Outer space, inner space, mental space, personal space, physical space and imaginary space.

DD: How did you choose the artists?

Jesse Draxler: The artists are Michael Cina, Eddie Perrote, Eric Gorvin and Angelo Pennaccio. I’ve chosen artists with a strong background in design, or artists that work in the field of design full time - which goes back to that idea of art that is fun to look at - a designer's job is to please the eye of the viewer - so when a designer creates "fine art" you can expect the same principles to be in play.

DD: What kind of work will you be showing? 

Jesse Draxler: I'll be showing a wall installation of magazine pages pinned to the wall and out from these pages flow other cut pages, three-dimensionally twisting, turning and folding, some get pretty complex. I landed on this idea from pushing the materials I was working with, I'd been wondering "Is this all there is?" while collaging. I wanted to make something very different using the same materials. Everything is held together rather delicately with a few strategically placed pins, creating tensions that hold the 3 dimensional shapes together. 

DD: What are your future plans? 

Jesse Draxler: I'm going to push forward the idea of three-dimensional collage. I've only made the first step and am excited to see where I can go with it – free standing 3D collages, hovering collage masses, large scale wall installations, etc.  Also I’m about to teach myself Cinema 4D to create digital 3D artworks and videos. It will take some time, but it's a natural progression for my practice. 

The SPACE show is opening at The Gallery at Fox Tax on December 14th.