Where are you from? I'm from Des Moines.
What are you favorite things about living in Des Moines? In the past few years Des Moines has really seemed to be developing their creative community, which for the most part has a very positive, nurturing attitude which hopefully will not diminish.
What is your job by day? I am an Elementary School Art Teacher.
What medium/s of art do you practice? Mostly oil painting, though I have dabbled in other mediums like photography, drawing, and metal smithing.
What drew you to painting? Mixing colors, it's one of my favorite parts about working with oil paints.
Why do you make art? Because it is challenging, therapeutic, and I really love that I am able to create interesting and captivating images (or at least I try to.)
What inspires you to make what you make? Emotion, color, and painting people. Humans have so much depth to them, I love to paint people because they are so complex, I attempt to interpret the human experience through contemporary portraits because the way we live life is so messy and beautiful.
How do you keep yourself motivated? It can be really hard sometimes, especially when you have so much to do outside of your own personal work, but my ideas are what keep me going. When I have an idea for a painting I try to act on it as soon as possible, even if the painting itself may take me a year to complete. If I don't at least start it there is the possibility that idea might fade or die, motivation is a fickle thing.
What do you like about DSM Girl Gang? I love it because it has given me opportunities to collaborate (which is super exciting and I never got a chance to really do), make new friends, and join a guild of high skilled creative women which is just a giant, beautiful melting pot for inspiration and resources.
What do you like about yourself? I like that I am not a perfect person, the continual reminder of that inspires the subject matter for my work and my persistent attitude to never stop improving and pushing myself to become a better teacher, person, and artist.
What do you want right now? From yourself? From your community? From your art? I just want my community to keep pushing the creative arts, and to continue to move forward. We are becoming a great progressive city, with a great art scene. But with those achievements, we should not lose sight of what makes our city great and different, in light of our successes. We need to continue to be a city of artists that help each other, grow from one another, and support one another.
What can we (the Girl Gang) do to help you/other artists/women? To just continue to grow, keep creating and providing opportunities, and keep contributing to the positive artistic growth of this city.
How have you cultivated your art over the years? How have you changed from when you started creating? I have been creating art since elementary school, and it has evolved from first focusing on skill to more conceptual challenges. I used to focus on making a drawing or painting more derived in realism, but while during college, working on my BFA degree, my art started to reflect a more surrealistic influence.
What has had the greatest impact on you as an artist/creator? The greatest impact on me as an artist was going through the BFA program at the University of Northern Iowa. Through the program I was encouraged to explore all different mediums and I was more challenged as an artist to really think about the reasons I create art.
What is your next big goal? To complete paintings for an upcoming solo exhibition.
You can find Jessica on Instagram: @i_like_magic
Interview and Photographs by Alexandria Crahan