The Norman Transcript

August 9, 2013

Q&A: Jessi Wilson mixes photography, printmaking

by Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — As far back as Jessi Wilson can remember, art has been a part of her life.

Though she developed an early romance with photography, earning a bachelor’s in the subject from Texas Woman’s University, she later fell in love with printmaking and is currently studying the medium as a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma.

She’s now combining her passions for an exhibit at MAINSITE Contemporary Art, 120 E. Main St., through Sept. 14. Her work is being exhibited for winning the Norman Arts Council’s 2012-2013 Individual Artist Award.

For more on Wilson visit jessiwilson.com.

Q: What fascinates you about art?

A: I guess just the way you can be creative, create your own individual work and be expressive — really put your mark on something and have something be significant for you as well as show it to others.

Q: Why did you get into photography first?

A: I grew up with my mom taking pictures. She really showed me how to use my camera. She bought me my first one and I haven’t stopped taking pictures since. It was love at first image.

Q: How did you transition into printmaking?

A: I took a screenprinting class the spring of 2012 and I realized how much it complimented the work I was doing in photo at the time, and I wanted to explore printmaking more and learn the processes that are involved. So I switched. I took a press workshop that OU does every year in the summer and I started doing woodblock and I loved it. I kind of went from there.

Q: What kind of prints do you do now?

A: I do a little bit of everything. My newer work includes more of my photo imagery as a background and layering woodblocking or screenprinting. It’s incorporating layers with everything that I do.

Q: What are you doing for your show at MAINSITE?

A: I’m actually doing a “printstalation” which is something that I’ve recently started researching and noticing printmakers taking their work beyond just a piece of paper and cutting them out and turning them into something more than just a print on a wall. I’ll be doing something like that and I’ll have prints on the wall, as well.

It’s a combination. It’s a completely different direction than where I was when I submitted my application for Individual Artist.

Q: What is the printstalation going to be?

A: It’s a secret. [laughing] I really want it to be a surprise because it’s something nobody has seen from me before. It’s still in the baby stages. I know we’re only a few weeks away but I really want it to be a surprise for everyone.

I can tell you, it’s going to be more of a dream-like scenario of what my dreams are like but will have some hints of reality behind that.

Q: What do you want your audience to get out of your work?

A: Basically seeing the small things in life and recognizing that sometimes it’s the little things we need to appreciate more than the bigger picture. We have such a short time on this planet and everything comes and goes. Mother nature has this ability to take away and give back as much as she wants and we have no control over that. It’s good to really stop and take time in our lives to really appreciate those little things.

Q: What inspires you?

A: Nature, mostly. I’ve been fascinated with the car culture and how we see cars as parts of ourselves. But nature mostly and how we kind of interlace ourselves with it and kind of grow around it.

It’s a combination of a lot of things, but mostly nature and the car culture because that’s what drives us. Literally, that’s what drives us around. Just the idea of devolving and revolving scenarios.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

A: Finishing grad school. That’s what’s going to happen this next year. And then looking for a job, I’d like to teach ad continuing my art.

Q: What kind of teaching?

A: More of a collegiate level. Teaching printmaking, I want to teach a combination of things so probably at a beginner level but definitely printmaking and combining photography with printmaking.

Q: Why is art important?

A: Oh my gosh, it’s so important. Art education is the base of a lot of how kids learn nowadays. And without art we wouldn’t have what we have — every object you have has been designed by an artist.

It’s necessary. And Norman is one of the best arts education centers for children I’ve ever seen. It’s vital. It’s how I learned math, to be perfectly honest. It interlaces with science. Without art we wouldn’t have anything. It’s very vital we keep it in our system.

Q: Do you have any advice to aspiring artists?

A: Experiment with everything you can get your hands on when it comes to art. Just experiment as much as you can. Look at programs you want to go into when it comes to the people you want to learn from.

And know your history and where everything comes from. At this point it’s all been done so it’s just how you put your twist, your touch or your niche on it.