Our July 23, 2021, cover artist is Jessica Brilli, whose most recent work draws inspiration from 35mm Kodachrome slides and vintage photographs collected from around the country. Her suburban scenes are a reflection of her early years on Long Island; however, through years of photographic research, she’s come to realize that her experiences are a strand in a common thread shared by Americans of all backgrounds.
“Through my experience of painting and sharing these photos, I have found that there is something inherent in them that speaks to many Americans, whether it be a photo taken at a pool party in 1965 or of someone’s mother standing in front of the family car—we insert our own lives into these scenes from the past,” Brilli writes on her website. “I view thousands of slides and photos to find the ones that move me emotionally. I’m constantly on the hunt for photos that mirror scenes from my childhood, or that I feel a connection to through personal or familial experience.”
Here, Brilli shares the story behind this week’s cover art, “Swimming at Sea,” her favorite spots on the East End and how the community can submit their photos to her ever-growing collection of nostalgic Americana.
Tell us about the inspiration and story of “Swimming at Sea.”
“Swimming at Sea” was inspired by an old Kodachrome slide—the original image shows more of the scene, but I chose this specific cropping for the serenity it conveys. There’s also something about floating in a pool of water on a ship in the ocean that brings me joy.
What makes this piece such an ideal fit for a summer Dan’s Papers cover?
Everything about this piece says summer to me.
What are your favorite East End spots to visit in the summer, and do these locales appear in your work?
I’ve always loved visiting Greenport and have fond memories of having lunch with my family at the Rhumb Line restaurant when I was a kid. Orient Point is also nostalgic for me because I took many ferry trips from there when I was going to school in Rhode Island.
The summer after I graduated from college, I actually worked at Dan’s Papers designing advertisements! (This was my first design job—my other career for the past two decades has been as the senior graphic designer at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute.) While at Dan’s Papers, I really enjoyed spending time in the Hamptons with my friends and exploring the surrounding areas.
What do you find most rewarding about being an artist?
The joy that the paintings bring to people.
What works of yours can currently be seen at Ric Michel Fine Art and other East End galleries?
“Swimming at Sea” and “Night Vision.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes! I’m always on the lookout for color vintage slides and photos to use as inspiration for paintings, if anyone would like to share their collection with me, feel free to send images to [email protected].
To learn more about Jessica Brilli and see more of her lovely works, visit jbrilli.com.