We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessa Gilbert and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessa, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
I find I am the happiest when I am creating and playing… especially when the two are combined. My artwork is all about celebrating joy, the spirit of adventure, and the places we find ourselves. It feels good to laugh and be light, and in turn to share those experiences with others through paintings, drawings, and public art murals. I love seeing people interact with my artwork, especially those from seemingly different backgrounds than my own. Those moments remind me how much more connected we are to each other than we are different. I feel really lucky to be in a position to create artwork from my happiest moments, experience joy within the act of creating, and remain happy through the experience of that artwork from others.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I always wanted to be an artist, but all through school I felt like an outsider to the art gallery community because I was heavily involved in snowboarding and preferred flannel shirts to black dresses. I felt like my identities were split and separate, which led me to feel frustrated in the art practice and lacking in my competitive snowboarding. I moved to Canada in 2013 after a massive knee surgery to a city where I knew no one, and decided I wanted to try things differently. I began creating artwork while I was outside, hiking, splitboarding, and exploring a new-to-me landscape that I found captivating. The more I created from a place of awe and wonder the more connected I felt to my artwork. I kept working in this fashion without an audience, simply happy to create and feel the joy from the process. Fast forward to now, I’m still creating in the same way, except for now I feel more confident that the reason my artwork resonates is because it is honest and fully lived within. My artwork celebrates the feelings associated with play, exploration, and wilderness because I’ve realized over time that is what sets things and people apart – how we feel.
If I could offer any advice from my learned experience, it would be to allow yourself to get out of your own way. I spent a lot of time wondering if I would ever be good enough to fit into someone else’s box, not realizing that how we categorize ourselves is what truly matters. Trust the process, and show up to it with curiosity.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I loved spending time in the RiNo district! Spend the afternoon walking around the Arts District checking out all the public art, perhaps with a snack in hand from the Central Market. Better yet, get yourself on a bicycle and take advantage of the easy to cycle city! Explore the alleyways, and get yourself lost on an unplanned detour. Work up an appetite, and make your way back for dinner at any number of restaurants. Check out Los Chingones for great drinks and tacos or Super Mega Bien for something a bit more chaotic (in the best way). A night cap at Death and Co would not only be classy and elegant, but so damn delicious.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to the Chill Foundation, Third Way Youth Center, and the RiNo Arts District! These organizations combined work to give back to the communities they represent in meaningful ways. The Chill Foundation and Third Way Youth Center support youth in giving them opportunities to play, whether that be through skateboarding, hiking, snowboarding, or, in the case I found myself involved, creating a public art mural! RiNo Arts District gets a shoutout because for the month of July they created a specific focus on youth engagement in the public arts arena. It’s so important to not only show the budding generation what is possible, but to get them involved in the process. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with these three organizations, and see their efforts directly engage with the community.
Other: www.society6.com/jessagilbert ((Art Prints))