Jennifer Agricola Mojica is a contemporary painter, educator and mother based in San Antonio, Texas. Her paintings are influenced by the journey she has taken as both an artist and mother. Living in several cities during her formative years, adapting to new experiences at an early age and transitions through motherhood are suggested through her compositions. Agricola Mojica’s work conveys shifting perspectives and figures, layers that conceal and reveal, monotonous repetition punctured by shapes and suggestions of a fragmented time and space.
Agricola Mojica has exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Royal Nebeker Art Gallery in Astoria, OR; Trisolini Gallery, Athens, OH; and the IF Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic. She has shown her work at numerous galleries in Texas, including 1906 Gallery, Joan Grona Gallery, Sala Diaz and Dallas Center for Contemporary Art. Her artwork can be found in collections including the Linda Pace Foundation and the Finesilver Gallery.
After earning her BFA in painting from Ohio University College of Fine Arts, Agricola Mojica went on to receive her MFA in sculpture from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Today she splits her time between her studio practice and teaching at St. Philip’s College.
In my process, a painting begins with a disruptive start and ends with a harmonious stillness. Planes shift and shapes repeat, forms are portrayed at different vantage points and figures become fragmented. The chaos then becomes a calm, meditative process as I weave concepts and elements together.
As an inevitable part of my process, disorderly perceptions of time and space reflect my lived experiences. I revisit childhood memories and moments of disruption in my work, revealing an underlying personal narrative. Additionally, my role as a mother influences the content and composition of my paintings. As I navigate my life and the lives of two children, I find myself in a place of constant learning permeated with challenges. All of these uncomfortable, but beautiful, experiences punctuate my compositional space. Houses, birds and figures are frequent motifs that straddle the line between realism and abstraction.
I build up and tear down images—constructing, covering and unearthing compositions. This process provides a dialogue between the creator, the artwork and the viewer. The interconnected distortions and repetition of shapes in the figure draw the viewer into the imagery, contributing to the overall reflective mood of my paintings, ultimately challenging the viewer to pause, think and contemplate the work. In doing so, the viewer finds a quiet place to rest amongst the chaos and is able to tap into their own personal and cathartic meaning.
What initially compelled you to pursue art?
My childhood was filled with creative opportunities. My earliest childhood memory is of my mother’s sewing corner filled with textiles, buttons and patterns by her sewing machine. She sewed our clothes and quilts. She was a self-taught interior designer, shopping at antique stores, putting up wallpaper in the rooms, ripping up carpets and adorning the walls with her art constructions. She would guide us through art projects like papier-mâché puppets, and she sent us to art camps at the local art museum. The creativity, exploration and discovery really ignited my curiosity and wonder. In high school, that sense of discovery and play was nurtured in art classes. I had a very encouraging art teacher, Shelly Brauer, who taught me—among other things—photography and the darkroom. She gave me so much freedom to experiment, and as I watched the images appear on the film, I knew I wanted to go to art school.
Who or what in your life influences your practice the most?
I am mostly influenced by what is around me. I am always looking for and taking inspiration from the present, but I also refer to the past. There are times when I see an artwork from history that triggers a feeling; other times, I see a mundane object, a dying plant or a photograph that sparks a memory or references time. Those images become the prompt to start a painting. My ordinary or mundane influences are portals that are then buried, layered and fragmented. I am constantly taking in moments and glimpses of life; they are hard for me to verbalize. Those snapshot moments where I may seem emotionally desensitized through words seem to find a way back into the compositions as a visual diagram.
What do you feel is the key concept that connects your works?
Palimpsest, fragmenting and layering space and time—it is the way I process information. The paintings I have been making recently are a visual representation of how I think. I begin in one area and progressively build out. Then, forms and spaces are covered and buried. As the surface is constructed, shapes are concealed and then revealed. The composition becomes an architectural dig. Pre-existing layers are sometimes visible when one sees the process; other areas are obliterated.
Unabated layering helps me to move through, find and explore ideas that could never happen if I worked linearly. It is like going out for a drive in the country without a road map. I get lost, but I discover so much more.
Tell us about a moment that ultimately made you look at your art and/or practice differently.
In undergraduate school, I tried so hard to find myself as an artist. I was always trying to be someone else. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to “make” in the studio and was very frustrated that I couldn’t find my voice. In the last year of undergraduate school, I ran out of money for art supplies. I turned to the dollar store and found mundane materials like napkins, twine and masking tape. I was drawn to these materials for their texture, smells, neutrality; and I began making constructions. That year, I developed an authentic voice and created things that were relevant to me. The exploration and freedom to play connected me to a creative space that I had never accessed before. Years later, I discovered the through line between what I was doing then and what I am doing now—the layering, building from a part, constructing pieces that intersect time and space.
What does your art give you that nothing else can?
My paintings are a diagram of experiences that I feel, hear and see. They provide me with a space to meditate, breathe, pause, reflect, discover, be childlike, wonder and dialogue.