In 2005, Jes moved to the Twin Cities from Southern California, a year after graduating from California State University, Long Beach with a double major in Women’s Studies and Film and Electronic Arts. Jes now holds a Master of Liberal Studies degree (focusing in creative writing, feminist theory, and film studies) from the University of Minnesota, with a minor in Museum Studies (focusing in curatorial studies and community arts).
Since 2004, Jes has been building a significant career in community-based services, which art has often been part of. This work began while working in residential care as a child care worker in Westminster, California, supporting 7 to 14-year-old boys experiencing significant behavioral challenges. She also worked as a Women's Advocate from 2005-2008 with Women of Nations in their domestic violence shelter in St. Paul, Minnesota. She provided supportive counseling to women and children while also assisting with pet and art therapy services. Since 2008, Jes has been with Avivo (formerly RESOURCE) working in the organization's Community Support Programs. She first started as a Young Adult Outreach Worker, specifically supporting 18 to 26-year-olds living with serious and persistent mental illness, and eventually transitioning to full-time mental health case management, working with many adults challenged with court commitment. Jes is now the Coordinator of Avivo ArtWorks (formerly Spectrum ArtWorks), a multi-faceted art studio for artists living with mental illness. She facilitates the goals of the program through a community-focused and recovery-based approach. She plans, organizes, and executes ArtWorks annual group exhibitions, markets, and group/recreational activities while also working to uphold its mission to break down stigmas associated with mental illness. Although an artist at heart, she has proven to be a notable leader, curator, manager, advocate, and innovator.
I am an interdisciplinary artist, primarily practicing in filmmaking. My moving image work grows from my motivations to blend my interests in the cinematic arts with creative writing and feminist theory. I merge the visual form of cinema with literary forms like poetry and memoir so that I can experiment with narrative and offer a quality that is non-objective in nature. I imagine this process as weaving images with subjectivity, tone, and mood. Thus, the camera for me is an extension of my mind and body, where I produce diarist, lyrical, and somatic art. I tend to work alone, with filming, editing and recording my own films, though some of my projects are created through intimate collaborations. I primarily explore the fragmentation of the past and how memories, experiences, and places take shape within our present realities, but I am also curious about the structures of bodies, whether human or comprised from nature. “House of Vintage” (2013), a photographic series, explores tchotchkes, the mélange of vintage stores, as well as my fascination and longing for the past. “Here, Mom” (2014) is a short video essay where I express my relationship with my mother by allowing the camera and the editing process to become an extension of my experience. “Components” (2015), a silent short video poem made in collaboration with Katie Rensch, layers the moving image with words and explores how our bodies intersect the man-made and natural world. To speak to these two worlds, a poetic voice emerges and translates what the body feels and what the body says to its segmented existence. In “Loss” (2015), a video poem, I follow the emotions and experiences behind the word and the experience of loss in grief. “Beneath the Skin” (2016) explores the ongoing tenderness I feel towards the death of my mother. A silent video poem, it gets to the heart of my grief by delving into how my deepest memories lay beneath my skin.
Creating diarist art is a way for me to get the roots of a moment, feeling, or movement. I am often looking back at myself as a way to understand my artistic approach and the process of looking, feeling, and remembering, ultimately attempting to work out my particular inquiries trough self-reflexivity. It is a process that weaves images with subjectivity, tone, mood, and often breaks from physical reality. I like to flirt with dark and light images, too, because I am drawn to complexity and teasing the eye. I am intrigued by change and am interested in what happens in between as well as what happens when blending genres and art disciplines.
Beyond filmmaking, I have the need to express myself through various forms. For example, I have created a body of writing from my video poems that I want to strengthen and inspire new work from, with the goal to publish my first chapbook. Also, I am an experimental filmmaker that turned to painting in 2015 after my mother passed away due to a terminal illness. As I finished my graduate degree from the University of Minnesota in 2013, I began a path of creating intimate video poems that focused on my experience with grief. Though the work was tremendously important to process living through loss, making these films involved remembering the past; it was something I needed but was often a difficult place for me to go. By adding painting to my practice, I’ve been able to create work that isn’t necessarily related to my mother’s death and our life together, but more about where I am currently, now that my mother is physically gone. Abstract painting has balanced my creative methods and has been very therapeutic for me because of its intuitive nature. It helps me stay in the present and experiment with thoughts as they take shape; all of which creates for me a fluid artistic mindset and approach centered on growth and learning. As I reflect on this and move forward as an emerging artist, my aim is to to build and strengthen the interdisciplinarity to my work and merge my writing, photography, filmmaking, and painting practices so that I expand and connect the ways I express complexity and vulnerability.