VIM: Hello Jess Vanessa! How are you? You had a show in December? How did it go?
JESS VANESSA: Hello I'm good! Yes I did, I had a show in December at UNLV. It was the midway show for my Undergraduate degree, I presented a piece alongside with six fellow peers. It was insane because I presented this large piece that was roughly around 20 feet long. I worked on that piece since August straight into December I didn't think I would get it done on time. I remember panicking and thinking "Well, I could present it unfinished and live out my shame, better yet run away, take up a new identity, move to Costa Rica." But I recollected myself, I was determined. I was determined to finish this piece for all of those who have supported me through out the years, sacrificed, and inspired me. So after a few all nighters during November and December. I was able to finish the piece and present it during the show. I was determined to finish, because I had so many supportive friends and family that were excited to see my work for the first time in a formal academic setting. Once the show started I became aware of how much support there was, for all of the artists present, and that's what really felt like created a great show was the support that was present, a community, to be a part of this community. It was a really good show.
VIM: Tell us about your mural at Walter Braken Elementary School. How did that come about?
JESS VANESSA: I actually got a call from one of my old professor's. He asked if I was willing to do a mural at an elementary school, they were looking for someone to repaint the science room. I automatically agreed, I use to work with children as a preschool, teacher and aide. One of the best parts of my young life. I wanted to give back. I was born and raised in Las Vegas I felt that it was my responsibility to give back to the community in some way. So I was all hands on deck to paint this mural. I sketched out my idea and got a few fellow artist/ peers (Love them to death wouldn't be able to get it done in that time crunch without them)to help me during winter break and finished it in about 2 weeks. It came out really well, everyone loved it.
VIM: Let's talk inspirations, what inspired you to become an artist? Any current local artists that have gotten your attention?
JESS VANESSA: I was highly interested in art a very young age. There are three things that stuck with me. One was first grade Ms. McDonald my art teacher introduced us to Van Gogh, and I fell in love instantly, I remember we had to recreate on of his paintings with crayons and I recreated Wheat field with crows. Ms. McDonald would lecture as we drew about Van Gogh. I was instantly connected, I thought that we were kindred souls. Except I didn't want to cut my ear off. I found my 6 year old self literally falling in love with Van Gogh. Still am today. The second was, that I read a lot as a kid, my dad would take my sister and I to the library once a week or sometimes more. I checked out books with elaborate illustrations. I was obsessed with the illustrations in the books,I wanted to be an illustrator, still do. Third was Bob Ross, I watched a lot of Bob Ross as a child, even checked out the VHS's. As I grew older I was exposed to many different art related careers, that really gave me a push to continue because it was something I loved to do and it could be a career. But really I think that really drew in me into art was the complete freedom of creativity and ingenuity art offered.
Yes a few!
Gig Depio, Incredible guy! I first saw his work when I began attending UNLV in 2014, I saw him unloading his paintings from a truck in the distance, and I was in awe. I thought to myself, " you have to see more, and talk to him." And I did, and I'm grateful I did. He's given me the best advice I have ever received, and I admire his hard work, his down to earth persona. Super awesome artist and friend.
Zet Gold, Graphic Designer and Illustrator. She's dope, I met her last year, funny because both of a few of our family members, knew/were friends with each other for years before she and I even met. She's witty, and clever most of her works are clever anecdotes, sayings, word play. I drool over work like that. She's a kindred spirit for sure. Love the girl like family.
Clarice Tara, She's amazing! That girl is a multi media, powerhouse. There's a lot of thought, emotion, and spiritual movement in her work. She's dedicated as well. I first only saw her drawings and really enjoyed those but lately she's been doing performance and sculptural works and really blowing it out of the water.
Victor Torres, I'm not a huge photo person, I do enjoy looking at them but as for art it really has to capture my attention especially the subject matter. But Victor's work definitely caught my eye. Mainly his photo work revolving around Nevada/ Las Vegas. Away from the stereotypical glitz and glamour of the commercial Las Vegas club life, He really knows how to photograph the life and movement of the Las Vegas we live in.
Justin Favela! Really love his work! I listen to his podcast too, Latinos Who Lunch! A lot of locals are familiar with his work. He was one of the people that inspired me to continue doing art and pursing it in my education. Especially because when I came to UNLV I wasn't going to do traditional art, but then I was sitting in a Jamba Juice in North Las Vegas and I saw Justin and his work in a magazine and changed my mind. Here was a young Latino, from my town making a living from something he loved and something he felt strongly about. I was given that push I needed for sure. And every time I hear the podcast it really inspires me for personal reasons.
VIM: In 2011 you had a student show at the College of Southern Nevada. What piece did you submit to it?
JESS VANESSA: I submitted a portrait, in Graphite. I still have it, somewhere. That year was interesting, I had no interest in being an artist at all. I wanted to become a teacher. I completely convinced myself I would never make it or be an artist. I had all these booklets to different art colleges, I remember throwing them away. Because I believed art was not a valued career, I wanted the "safe leave it to beaver job" But Ms. Acosta changed my mind. I'm glad she did. She pushed me, and really talked me back into it. I really owe her a lot. I kept that piece for that reason. It's somewhere in my house, it's a reminder of the year I almost gave up on my passion.
VIM: You also exhibited at one of my favorite past galleries, BlackBird Studios as part of the Wes Anderson Tribute Show. How did that come about?
JESS VANESSA: That was actually forwarded to me by a friend of mine via Facebook. I didn't even know we had an awesome gallery like that in Vegas at the time. I decided to give it a try and send something in. I unfortunately was working the night of the reception, and couldn't attend. I heard the BlackBird Studios closed down, which really bums me out since they had such great shows and exhibitions in the past.
VIM: What are your plans for after you finish your school? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
JESS VANESSA: Away from civilization, living on a farm house in the woods, collecting wood for a fire. Honestly I do not know 5 years feels like a very small amount of time. I really can't say, where I'd be but I can say what i'd hope to accomplish within those 5 years. I need to pay off my student debt, I hate having that above my head. I actually have a list of projects in mind that I'd like to accomplish. One of which is creating a book with my mother and grandmother. Maybe even writing and illustrating a bilingual children's book. I really want to get more involved with the community hand and hand with the Arts. Join a non-profit, and of course I'll still be making work on the side. But I really want to give back, wether it be here in Las Vegas, or else where with programs looking to improve and unite communities. But In all truth I'll go where life takes me, to where it wants me to be and where I'm needed, because if none of those things are accomplished within those 5 years, I'm sure I'll be content where ever life leads me.