Between Shadows and Surrealism: The other-worldly works of Jessie Vogel

Shadow inspired by flag on Better Farm's front deck; recreated with hook and fabric sculpture; redrawn with charcoal on white wall.
Jessie Vogel, an MFA student earning her degree in 3-D sculpture at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, lived at Better Farm July 8-Aug. 7 as part of the betterArts residency program.

Her gallery opening Aug. 5 at the farm featured work from her series in shadows. Appearing last week on the local network, Jessie described her work's surreal qualities.

Likening her shadows series to the sensation she experiences when reading Grimm fairy tales, Jessie called her sculptural pieces "light and fantastical, but... kind of bizarre." Shadows, she says, have an ability to be something that's not concrete; "possibly in this other reality." Jessie's job is to take that non-concrete shadow form and make it into something physical.

For her shadow series, Jessie described the "humorously decadent" process this way: She notices an interesting shadow, brings it into the physical world by essentially "sculpting" it out of found textiles and objects, then transports it back into its shadow world by drawing the shadows on the wall. In this way, Jessie said, she bridges the gap between what's real and unreal and makes that transition fluid.

At her gallery show last week in Better Farm's Art Barn, Jessie displayed several pieces she worked on during her time in Redwood. Here are those pieces, along with images from the event itself:

Swing made with wood pillar and chain found on Better Farm's property, along with sewn pieces of discarded fabric. Jessie left the swing at the Farm for future use by residents.

Soon Kai enjoys the barn swing.

Eric Drasin
The artist, seated next to a swinging Lizzi Musoke. On ground level are Eric Drasin, left, and Mike Brown.
To learn more about Jessie Vogel or to contact her, visit For more information about the betterArts residency program or to apply, click here.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.