At the structural level J. Lynn Campbell's art is based on a relationship between symbol and process. What is essential to the notion of process is how the material can be shaped to evoke significance. Together, symbol and process provide a bridge to address a provocation of meaning. And, a symbol is a mark or sign that calls forth a perception of sentiment. Therefore, as archetypes, symbols can serve as perceptual links. The issue of the body/viewer as a medium of perception/sensation is the means that connects the viewer’s experience to works of the imagination.
The content of Campbell's work has evolved from an investigation of the internal/subjective space and the external environment – who we are and how we are in the world. And, as the creative process inevitably demands, the development of ideas challenged her use of materials and methodologies bringing about a transition from drawing, painting and collage to three-dimensional sculpture/construction and site-specific installation. The act of “building” made it possible to establish a relationship between symbols and space. As a result, several large-scale structures were realized that, for her, symbolized a building process through which the self could be experienced.
Working through these dimensions, the focus on the external form shifted, situating the self further from the surface of the form to the inner nature of the form – that of the body. These constructions, cast and patterned from human forms, both male and female, reintroduce the notion of meaning intricately associated with the substance of materials, particularly the material of the body, such as hair and sinew. The body, or parts of, become symbolic and a material framework from which to view the world, and is a point of reference for empirical knowledge.
A further shift occurred when reinvestigating the two-dimensional surface utilizing digital imagery, drawing, sewing and collage. The starting point was organic structures and diverse life forms – characteristic bodily forms of mature organisms, of which the human body is one such entity. All life forms are part of a complex interconnected system, shaped and limited by time. Still referencing the “body”, these image-based works with tactile application(s), encapsulates the spatial and temporal boundaries within which physical objects exist, transform, and dissipate.
When fabricating work there are aesthetic consideration related to philosophical principles – a conscious selection or claiming of elements for a particular purpose. But there is always more below the surface. The “making” by hand, the act of touching is also an act of intimacy. The chosen elements in combination with a process offer an initial position that can link other levels of understanding. For Campbell, the art making process is meditative and allows for the surfacing of empathy. The physical journey parallels, or precipitates the spiritual journey.
These considerations are both a starting point and an ongoing deliberation in her art making practice.