Jessica Scriver combines her love of science and art

It takes Jessica Scriver a while to get warmed up to do a painting.

“I start with little experiments,” she said. “I don’t worry about color. In fact, I’ll just use whatever I have left over.”
Eventually, the little experiments result in a finished product, although she noted that sometimes the process takes several months.

Scriver believes her artwork is influenced by her background in science. She switched from studying art at Indiana University to getting a degree in biology and then worked as a high school physics and chemistry teacher in Connecticut. During that time, an art teacher offered Scriver some studio space which led to her taking classes at the Rhode Island School of Design, inspiring a change in profession.

The creative process is not a linear one for Scriver.

“I usually don’t start with a preconceived idea,” she said. “The ideas evolve from the materials I use and the way I manipulate them.”

Photo by Geoff Scriver
Jessica Scriver savors the creative process.
Photo by Geoff Scriver Jessica Scriver savors the creative process.

She generally has three or four different threads of ways to do things which overlap and interact. Her larger pieces are often created after a series of experiments with smaller works.

“A lot of what I do is data collecting,” Scriver said. “I think a lot about the process of observation and experimentation and what different models look like compared to what they represent.”

The representations are generally static while the things they stand for are more dynamic.

“I am interested in how the neatness of theory compares to the messiness of reality,” she said. “I am more interested in the interaction of movement across patterns and the breakdown of patterns than pattern itself. I am interested in ideas of control and the reminders of a lack of control.”

Scriver paints with acrylics but also uses a wide range of media to create her art including magnets and iron filings to form magnetic field lines. She uses several different notched trowels and has a large collection of stencil materials which she has created, and which are employed to make designs on her canvases. Scriver also throws items like beads or pasta onto the surface of her work. The materials don’t stay on the painting, but they leave their imprint behind. For Scriver, laying down patterns and then breaking them up reflects the realities of her existence. “It is my way of processing my experience with the world,” she said.

Scriver moved to Charlotte in 2016. “We moved from the desert,” the former Colorado resident said, “and everything felt so soft and green.”

She loves being able to look across Lake Champlain to the Adirondacks. Scriver is happy to have found a home away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

“Whenever I go away and experience traffic and a more frenzied existence and then come back to Charlotte,” she said, “I feel grateful to be able to live here.”


Scriver has enjoyed taking part in Open Studio Weekend, two days in late May when artists and artisans across Vermont open up their studios to the public. She believes the event reaches an audience that might not otherwise visit her studio. She’s especially happy when locals stop by.

“There are so many interesting people I have the privilege of calling my neighbors,” she said. An added benefit of Open Studio Weekend is that the process of changing her studio space into a display area requires a great deal of work. “It’s really helpful for me to take inventory and clean things out,” she said. “It’s a good yearly exercise.”
Scriver’s work has been displayed in galleries across the state as well as in Colorado. She will be part of a group show at the Furchgott Sourdiffe Gallery starting on June 7.

She enjoys watching people engage with her work.

“I like to let everyone have their own experience with it,” she said. “It can be helpful to explain how things came about but I don’t think people need that to engage with the work. They can have their own experience with it.”
Scriver doesn’t give her artwork a title until the end of the process and the titles can be somewhat enigmatic.
“They come from a place of me figuring out my own interpretation of what is happening there,” she said. “It tells of the process. Titles reflect some of the thoughts that swirl around my head as I make the work and, in a way, ties the work together.”