Emerging Artists | Jaclyn Alderete

Meditations on the human journey

Jaclyn Alderete, Perpetuity of Being, oil, 35 x 25.

Jaclyn Alderete, Perpetuity of Being, oil, 35 x 25.

This story was featured in the March 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  March 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Drawing on similarities between humanity and the natural world, Jaclyn Alderete creates poignant, ethereal figure paintings full of grace and optimism. What you won’t find in her works are depictions of adversity and despair. The artist prefers to portray people’s resiliency in the face of tribulation—
moments of transition, hope, restoration, and rebirth. “Usually it’s about something personal, some experience I want to tell through another story without being specific,” she says.

Alderete learned to paint with oils as a teenager, quickly falling in love with the expressive medium. After she and her mother moved from Albuquerque, NM, to California’s South Bay area in 2000, she continued pursuing her interests in painting and earned a fine-arts degree from San José State University. Alderete’s instructors challenged her to convey meaning, not just technical skill, in her oils. “That’s when I started thinking about what my work really meant,” she says.

Going from Albuquerque’s desert clime to the beaches and lush forests of California, Alderete says she formed a deeper connection with nature, and painting offered her a way to explore its relationship to her own life experiences. In the artist’s eyes, the human figure projects both vulnerability and strength. By portraying a range of emotions and postures through the figure, and by adding symbolic animals, insects, fish, flowers, and water around them, Alderete expresses varied facets of the human spirit, from fragility and compassion to grit and vision.

Alderete photographs models for reference material, maintaining an ever-growing archive of images to sift through for ideas. If she’s working toward a theme, she sometimes identifies a mythical goddess or muse to help communicate it. For example, for a show about the afterlife, she painted PSYCHE AT THE LACUNA OF ANAMNESIS, in which a wraithlike woman lifts a veil. In Greek mythology, Psyche was the goddess of the soul. “For me, the painting is about uncovering the unknown—this idea that we don’t know what’s beyond,” says Alderete. “The figure is unveiling that mystery.”

Working from her home studio in the San Francisco Bay Area means she’s always thinking about her work, says Alderete, but she likes it that way. “I can work anytime,” she says. “My goal has always been to create my life around painting, around making art.” —Kim Agricola

representation
Abend Gallery, Denver, CO; Cactus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Flower Pepper Gallery, Pasadena, CA; Modern Eden Gallery, San Francisco, CA.

This story was featured in the March 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  March 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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