Jacob Heustis

Region: South

I was wandering through a refurbished bed-and-breakfast in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. I was ten years old. The building, formerly Daughters College, had been a nineteenth-century finishing school for girls. As I explored the bedrooms that were once dormitories, I noticed that the windowpanes had random dates scratched into the glass, along with names of students, suitors, and other scribbled sentiments. Later, I learned that long ago, these young, upper-class women had engraved this graffiti with their diamond rings. My fascination with this accidental discovery led me to explore the rites and rituals of high society and the value of personal possessions through the act of defacing a pristine surface with a precious object.

For the Debutantes series, I engrave the portraits and histories of famous American heiresses onto glass mirrors using a diamond ring. In these works, I’m interested in exploring perceptions of value, class systems, vanity, desire, and the nature of art and aesthetics within a contemporary context.