I am a visual artist based in Montréal, Canada. My research-based, collaborative practice includes poets, penguins, scientists, and philosophers to reveal geographies of resistance in the Canadian Arctic, Antarctica, and Iceland—where the agency of ice is paramount.
I received my BA in Fine Art from the State University of New York at Albany and studied art abroad at The Aegean Center for Fine Art in Paros, Greece, and The Art Institute of Florence in Florence, Italy. I received my MA in Art and Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY.
In 2008, I sailed with Cape Farewell, accompanying students, scientists, and the Big Heart Media film crew to create a cultural response to climate change. In 2010, in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, I carried out an audio/video project, Place With No Dawn, with community members across disciplines and generations. I subsequently sailed through the Northwest Passage and the Antarctic Peninsula to create my photographic series Horizon Felt, which uses color to imagine new cartographies of the Polar Regions. In 2017, I worked with residents of Baffin Island to create the sound sculpture Rock Has No Tongue, based on community reflections on the iron-ore mine in Mary River.
In 2018, in the framework of my project Letter to the Future, I solicited and concealed handwritten letters from people across disciplines in a time capsule. They were subsequently buried at my request in the Dronning Maud Land ice sheet by Alain Hubert, operator of The Princess Elisabeth Antarctic Station. The container will emerge in roughly 1,000 years, after the ice has carried it to the sea. Contributors include Inuit leader Okalik Eegeesiak, physicist Carlo Rovelli, composer Arvo Pärt, and philosopher Rosi Braidotti. No one from the present has read the letters.
In 2019, I initiated The Call of Things, an ongoing polar archive that links polar objects to oral histories and field recordings. I continue to act as the steward of the data, interviewing people engaged with the poles, and linking an object to each conversation uploaded on the website. Contributors include author Bathsheba Demuth, Inuk lawyer Aaju Peter, author Klaus Dodds, glaciologist Dr. Richard Alley, and whale songs.
Exhibitions include The Arktikum Museum, Rovaniemi, Finland; New Jersey MOCA, New Jersey, USA; The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Montréal, Canada; The Environmental Design Library, University of Berkeley, CA, USA; The Samek Art Museum, PA, USA; and The Latimer House Museum, NY, USA. My works are funded by The Canada Council for the Arts and are in the collections of The Canada Council Art Bank; The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts; Prêt d’œuvres d’art, Musée National Des Beaux-Arts du Québec; and Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), Montréal, Québec.
If you would like to contact me:
Website (1): www.jessicahouston.net
Website (2): www.thecallofthings.net
Website (3): www.lettertothefuture.net
The gallery below is a sample of Jessica Houston’s artwork (photos provided by Jessica Houston, republished below with Houston’s permission)