We had the good fortune of connecting with Jacey Vermeersch and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jacey, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I found that when you introduce yourself to risk and the endless possibilities that come with it, you understand that there is no stopping your life from changing. My dad told me at a young age that the only thing he could promise me was a life full of change and that everything comes to an end, which starts new beginnings; this stuck with me throughout my life and was the most valuable piece of advice I have ever heard.
Due to societal expectations, I struggled with what profession I wanted to pursue when I was seventeen years old. However, by continuing my studies in photography and eventually graduating with distinction from Pratt Institute in May 2020, I learned that the experience was financially risky but an important milestone that I look back on. It meant that I chose to move forward with a passion of mine no matter what challenges I could experience in the future. I learned that my education was beneficial and had introduced me to a variety of knowledge and skills, along with connections with talented artists. The outbreak of Coronavirus in December 2019 caused a global pandemic, where the dynamic of society changed dramatically and a strict quarantine was established. The world could not have predicted this outcome, and as a collective, we needed to shift our priorities to return to a state of equilibrium. My worst fear had come true, I was graduating from school with no job prospects and into a job market that was full of talent and few positions available. As I realized that a large risk of my career path was happening, I knew I needed to capitalize on this time and learn new skills to distinguish myself from other candidates. I started investing my time to learn new retouching skills and exploring the digital medium, while also applying to jobs in both New York and California areas.
When I moved to Irvine, California, I started a retail position that helped maintain my financial situation. Then I came across an opportunity to shoot the interior design work of Betsy Pascucci in Moscow, Idaho. I found that the connections I’ve made had led me in a new direction to work with other creatives and small business owners, and I was excited to start freelance photography. Working on this project, I used many of the skills that I had learned or improved on during quarantine. Soon after, the restrictions began to lift, and I realized that the risk of going to college and moving across the country was a significant step towards my success as all my hard work, determination, and patience made everything worth it. I wouldn’t have come across several learning experiences and opportunities to grow if I had not taken risks, which led me to develop new, revised goals for myself.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Throughout my education at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, I focused on fine art photography; I explored narratives concerning adolescence, family, the state of dreaming and the unconscious mind, and health. One of my recent long-term projects was about the human presence in the physical and digital traces left behind. This work embodies the concept of accumulating data through medical documents, government knowledge, and one’s DNA sample:
“Throughout digital environments, the human body is utilized as a physical resource and converted into photographic and three-dimensional forms, then further manipulated into abstraction. My thesis project, What’s Left Behind, pushes back on these processes by reclaiming and recontextualizing the materiality of my body. It comprises an archival generation of textures and forms, where I reference the structure of organs, skin, the composition of cells, the density of the body, and the colors associated with humans.”
When producing this work, I had planned to create a three-dimensional representation of my foot to exploit the physical nature of a “footprint” and preserve its current state; this would have been displayed in a clear acrylic box with a mirror revealing the sole. However, the Coronavirus became a threat and canceled the senior thesis shows at Pratt Institute. This work became more relevant as it recontextualized and mirrored the current state of the world, and has become something I would like to revisit in a new light.
I’m constantly seeking ways to create work and build connections amongst everyday experiences to exert a long-term project in the future. I keep a notebook filled with small ideas that become essential footnotes towards a more comprehensive concept that compliments my research. It’s a personal goal of mine to keep creating conceptual work and to have the opportunity to work with a group of creatives to execute a vision.
As I mentioned beforehand, I was commissioned by the interior designer, Betsy Pascucci, located in Long Island, New York, to photograph her work at the Presidential House of the University of Idaho. When preparing to shoot at this location, I had conversations with my friend, Michael Alley, who is currently pursuing interior and architectural photography, to give me insight into the process. I learned that I am a dedicated artist who, with preparation, knowledge, and determination, can capitalize on my future by taking risks to help improve my craft.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I have just moved to California in July 2020 and have been consumed with work and pushing myself to build connections with local creatives and small businesses, therefore I haven’t experienced this area in its entirety. I have visited the Los Angeles area with my family before and have been to several attractions. I enjoyed spending the day at The Getty Museum, which has impressive architecture and gardens, as well as an incredible selection of work, including the Baroque sculptures, 20th-century American photography, Renaissance paintings, and more. I would love to revisit the Griffith Observatory, where we observed the moon through the original 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope, in hopes we can view a special celestial event in the future. I would spend other days hiking the Hollywood Sign, relaxing at Redondo Beach, visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), and even revisiting Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. I would love to explore California even more and find places to experience wildlife attractions and other hiking trails. A few places that I have discovered in Orange County are Great Mex in Newport Beach, Noodle Place in Tustin, and India Gate Restaurant in Irvine. I hope to find more hidden gems as the restrictions are lifted. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to recognize my boyfriend, Nick Green, who has always supported me in the arts; my family who provided an outlet for creativity; my high school teacher, Lynn Johnson, who introduced me to film photography; and several professors, Rita Lombardi, Julie Pochron, and Anna Shteynshleyger who have prepared me for my photography career.