Every time I get to know something new, it becomes a part of me. It also becomes part of my work, although I am not always aware of it. Whenever I see something that appeals to me, something that I like a lot, it instantly becomes familiar, as if it has always had a place deep inside me, and just needed a bit of light to shine on it and make it visible. The topic of my work is often somewhere between isolation and loneliness and vitality. This is how I would describe my pictures retrospectively, because while I am working on them, I do not know what will happen.
I’m largely influenced by nature and by observing everyday things. When I find it impossible to draw or paint, I go for long walks and spend time in the woods. It’s also inspiring to study other people’s points of view, in books, films, and pictures. I read everything, from comic books to Thomas Mann—Mann because of his detailed, thorough, and curious descriptions of human life. They help me to see my surroundings through his eyes.
As a child, I had a picture book by Elizabeth Shaw. I loved the simple way she used vibrant colors: yellow for Father Mouse’s sweater and Mother Mouse’s skirt, blue for his trousers and her sweater. I also liked the matter-of-fact stroke of the drawings. In the same way, I’m influenced by Saul Steinberg, Paul Klee (especially his puppets, because they are so delicate and fun), Sonia Delaunay, and Georgia O’Keeffe; each manages to get to the heart of something and to present it in a way that makes it clearly visible. In this, they have strength and an energy that passes on to me. Delaunay’s paintings manage to surprise me every time I look at them. I find the colors she uses absolutely delightful, and her work has a clarity that is very pleasing.
I use all kinds of materials, cut-up colored paper, wax crayons, and color pencils—whatever seems right at the time. I like pure and vibrant colors and the way colored pencils can be used so vigorously, as a direct means to express what is inside me. I choose the medium I work with depending on how I feel, and the different materials—colored papers, cut-out fields of color, the texture of the wax crayons—express as much about the collage as the picture they create.
Mirjam Jacob was born in 1983 in Chemnitz, Germany, and now resides in Leipzig. Her drawings and collages were recently the subject of a show at Lubok Verlag, in Leipzig, and her work is on view in the group exhibition “Lubok: Artists’ Books from Leipzig” at the Städtisches Kunstmuseum Spendhaus Reutlingen, through April 25.