Meet Jessica Andersen, Previous Artist-In-Residence at Craft Alliance

By Mackenzie Taylor
In Culture

Craft Alliance Artist-in-Residence program offers artists from around the United States to work exclusively on their craft while teaching classes at Craft Alliance. Jessica Andersen is one such artist who is currently showcasing her talent at Craft Alliance’s “Artists-in-Residence Exhibition,” running now until July 3.

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Photo by Hannah Foldy

How would you describe your art to someone who isn’t familiar with your work?
I make jewelry, but I’m not a jeweler in the traditional sense. I make large, sculptural work that relates to the body and jewelry. The wearability is not always important to me. In my current work, I am reflecting upon the objects I keep, and the things my grandmother left behind—the memories I chose to remember and their relation to these items. I am beginning to embark on an exploration of my own personal narrative. I have been working with materials that, for me, are reminiscent of my childhood and home. Memories are utilized as starting points to create physical objects. Things from my past are employed to create new heirlooms.

What pieces from the Artists-in-Residence Exhibition are you most excited to share with the world?
I am excited about all my new work featured in the A-I-R Exhibition. It marks a transition for me in my practice—the beginning of an investigative journey into a more personal side to my making.

I am especially satisfied with the piece, “Beyond the Yard.” This necklace consists of pennies that were flattened on the railroad tracks behind my house in Madison. When I was young, my cousins and I would lay pennies on the railroad tracks. We never had any luck finding any though.

What is something you’ve been working on that you wouldn’t have had the opportunity without Craft Alliance’s program?
There is so much Craft Alliance has to offer not just to its Artists-In-Residence, but also to the community. While in St. Louis, I had the amazing opportunity to work with their Outreach programs. I got the chance to participate in the Mural Arts Program. Craft Alliance partnered me with East St. Louis High School for a mural residency. Here, I worked with students over several months to create a permanent metal installation for the entryway in their school.

What’s a medium you’ve never worked with before that you’d be interested in trying?
I’ve always been interested in working with wood more. While at Craft Alliance, I did take a wood turning class. It was amazing. Now I really want to continue to learn more techniques. I think it’s important as an artist to continue their knowledge and skill set.

How has Craft Alliance helped you grow as an artist?
Craft Alliance has provided me with the professional support to pursue my career as an artist. It has given me more confidence in my work. Craft Alliance has welcomed me into their amazing community.

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