Local artist Jessica Pisano paints trees and birds in the abstract, combining realism with symbolism, and expressing nature’s shapes and movements through oil paint in translucent layers. In 2016, Pisano’s work caught the eye of Canadian clothing designer Francis Dubé, owner of Laundromat. A partnership was born, and continues to thrive.
“I was originally a customer of the clothing line,” Pisano told The Times. “I was in Vermont, and came across their products.”
Laundromat is a fair trade clothing line that manufactures 100 percent pure wool products with fleece lining sourced from New Zealand. Its sweaters, hats, and handbags can be found in retail shops throughout New England and online. “I thought they were the best products ever,” Pisano said. Laundromat products are handmade by artisans in Kathmandu, Nepal — a fair trade, equitable partnership that began in the 1990s.
Pisano emailed an inquiry to Laundromat regarding one of their products back in 2016. The owner, Dubé, noticed Pisano’s artist’s signature.
“He found my website, went through my work, and reached out,” Pisano said.
He was particularly struck by an image of a single tree standing strong amid swirls of blue, white, and gray, with sandy orangey tones, peppered with intentional drips and blotches. The piece, “Bija,” translates to “Truth as the seed or cause of being” in Sanskrit. The painting would become the face of Laundromat’s soon-to-launch nonprofit, Plant a Tree, which plants trees in Nepal for every Laundromat purchase. “Kind of like the Toms model,” Pisano said.
In addition to representing Plant a Tree, the image is also displayed on all tags and promotions for the Laundromat clothing line. “I was honored,” Pisano said. “I’ve always wanted to be part of a project like this.”
Laundromat’s Plant a Tree initiative officially launched in 2016, partnering also with community conservation organization Clean Up Nepal, and has since planted hundreds of trees across the country.
“The project has really helped revitalize the area,” Pisano said. “They’re constantly planting trees.”
Pisano said she chooses trees because she’s fascinated by their shape, and how the elements give them “gestural movements.” The tree in “Bija” is one Pisano found at Long Point Beach that she decided to paint in plein air. “I’m inspired by nature,” Pisano said. “I’m constantly doing plein air.”
Pisano is currently traveling through the Southern U.S., “painting along the way,” she said. She’s gathering inspiration for new work that will be showcased on-Island this summer. Pisano owns a studio space in Vineyard Haven that is open by appointment.