July 6, 2017

Bite Sizes: Jacquelyn Ross

Throughout the Summer Institute, we'll be bringing you Bite Sizes which is sort of an episodic mini studio visit where we get to know bits about what the participants are up to and a bit about themselves. OK, in this episode we speak with Jacquelyn Ross. Ross is a writer and art critic currently based out of Toronto. She is a Creative Writing MFA candidate at the University of Guelph and some of her work has been featured in Mousse, Bomb and C Magazine. For the last two or so years she’s been running the very-good-idea publishing project Blank Cheque—publishing books by artists and writers who are peripherally related to the art world somehow.

She's currently working on a collection of essays and short stories, having recently tossed out an early draft of a novel. Many of the new stories salvage pieces from the initial draft (recurring characters include a cynical young critic who's lost faith in art, an over-confident painter, and a private-detective-cum-art- historian researching violent artworks). “I’m interested in characters that are experiencing a kind of clairvoyance or feeling of dread about the future. It's an existential project in a way. Of course, it's also just reality. Given the state of the world at this moment, it's totally plausible that something bad could happen at any moment, so these characters' neuroses are valid. I'm trying to build on a condition that is very real and sincere, and make it more absurd."

Throughout the institute she’s been chipping away at pieces of this undertaking with the input of peers and Chris Kraus.

One generic question I've been asking the participants is what they think the world needs more of. Ross responds with an admittedly strange but very thoughtful answer: "Well, I would never say 'art' because to think it could never be as important as food or shelter, that would be crazy! I don't know, maybe the world needs more support for seniors. Companions for people near the end of their lives. I see a lot of elderly people rolling around in wheelchairs by themselves and sometimes I wonder about them, whether they've lost their friends, their partners. So I guess I think about contemporary loneliness. I think about seniors.

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