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ArtBeat: A conversation with Jennifer Anne Nelson

Jennifer Anne Nelson is an Ashland-based painter who was raised in the American desert and came to Southern Oregon to grow her creative practice after attending UC Berkeley and showing her work across the Bay Area and Southern California. She has shown in various locations in Ashland.

JG: Jennifer, tell us about your artistic journey from when you first started making art until now?

JN: I’ve been creating for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I moved often, and creating art embodies the closest feeling to home for me. I attended UC Berkeley, fell even more in love with making art and learning from what had come before me, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Art Practice. My first solo show was at this amazing place called Guerilla Cafe where they even let me paint faux wood over all the walls before I hung my work. Showing my work is still a flurry of feelings — a good practice of trying to leave all the inhibitions at home and also getting to share in the excitement of talking about art.

JG: How have your collaborations in Ashland supported your art?

JN: I have met some incredible people in this magical town. I have been met with such support and folks energized by the work they are creating — excited to connect and share what they’re learning, as well as the processes they’re integrating. I am still counting my lucky stars that I’ve been able to be apprenticing with local printmaker Denise Kester for the past several years. It has been such a blessing to work alongside her in her beautiful studio, to be learning new creative mediums and methods, and watching not only how to be an artist in this day and age but also just how to be! I am honored to also be a Gallery Artist at the Ashland Art Center where my work proudly hangs alongside exquisite pieces by some of our town’s local artists. The moment I walked into the Art Center I made it my goal to one day be a part of it.

JG: What kind of work are you doing now that excites you?

JN: I’ve been conducting research and cultivating paintings and mixed media creations inspired by the stories and myths of Atlantis and ancient civilizations. This began shortly before moving to Ashland, and has been enriched with even more resources since moving to this enchanting town. Many locals have even shared stories of Mt. Shasta and its connections to the lost Lemuria, which has led to some of my most treasured pieces I have created for this series. I’ve been inspired most by this idea of a lost and ancient golden age, that we still have access to re-cultivating our hidden gifts and wondrous ways. The utmost goal of this Atlantis Studies series is to remind the viewer of their own uncharted depths and gifts and possibly give them the courage to remember and live them into being again.

JG: Talk to us about upcoming projects or any creative plans for the near future.

JN: In addition to the Atlantis series, I’ve started a side project of 20-minute sketches of women I admire. Artists Stanislava Pinchuk, Rithika Merchant, and Simone Bodmer Turner, to name a few. Not only has it been a great practice to get back into portraiture, but it has been so rewarding to slowly begin filling my walls with these role models who are making huge waves within the world — and to look up from my morning coffee at them and start my day out right, inspired and without a doubt that I can accomplish anything. I’ve also begun creating portraits for close friends, painting them as idols with beautiful halo crowns — queens and kings in their own right and honoring them as such. This is still a very new and exciting venture, but one I hope to soon extend to even more individuals of our town.

Ashland resident Jeffrey Gillespie is a Tidings columnist, arts reviewer and freelance writer. Email him at gillespie.jeffrey@gmail.com.

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