We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessi Kerr and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jessi, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I am interested in this question about risks. I’ve always lived in Arizona but we did move quite often when I was growing up. I never knew anything different as a child so it didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I think it made me expect and accept change more easily than a lot of other people. Change is exciting. I think this prompted question about risk taking refers to business decisions. However, instead I’d like to talk about risk taking in art. Visual risk taking is thing! Visual risk taking might mean layering media that don’t normally pair together. Mixed media is so fun and an easy way to add “Wow” to an otherwise ordinary piece. Visual risk taking might mean ripping, burning, cutting or obscuring your subject rather than presenting it pristine and unobstructed. Another practice I like to engage in is risk taking is to “wreck” my canvas before beginning a painting. There’s nothing more intimidating than a blank white piece of paper, right? Before I begin painting I like to collage, glue tissue paper and use a pallet knife to paint textured swatches on the canvas. Some of these elements will peak through the painting and others act as a jumpstart for dry-brushing or other texture techniques. To me, growing as an artist means to become increasingly creative with the way I take risks in my art.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My favorite style of art is Surrealism. I follow several Instagram accounts for surreal art and find daily inspiration there. Lately I’ve been incorporating a lot of beta fish in my work. This was our family pet for years when I was growing up. We kept putting them in the same tank as each other. I now know that’s a no-no. They kept eating each other and we’d keep replacing them, but there were always fish to look at! I made several fish sculptures using the beta as inspiration then those ideas turned into various drawings and paintings. I hope when people look at my work they see some imagination and creativity. I’ve made art my whole life and studied it in college, but most of my growth came when I had to teach it. When you teach art you are constantly forced to analyze what you are doing and why you are doing it. You become a diagnostician of what went wrong other people’s art and learn how to solve artistic problems that you never knew existed. I am thankful for a career that allows me to scratch my creative itch, even if I’m not actually the one who is making the art. I am also thankful to have a job that makes me do art. I can’t not do it. I need to do the project assignments before I give them to my students so they can see what is possible and so I can preemptively problem solve and can help them more effectively.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Alright, out of town friend, here’s our perfect day. This may require some teleportation. We’d start with crepes from “Coloados” in Avondale. Then, if the weather was nice, go on a wimpy hike somewhere with beautiful AZ scenery or maybe even go kayaking on Watson Lake in Prescott for a day trip. We must get tacos from a food truck, somewhere like Joe’s Tacos. At some point there must be afternoon coffee. I like Driftwood Coffee in Old Town Peoria. To end our perfect day we’d go look at some art galleries downtown. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to give a shoutout to the most skilled artist I know, my momma, Barbara Dhalstedt. Shout out to my super talented husband Johnny Kerr. And you know what? Shout out to my art students!!!

Instagram: jessikerr_art
Facebook: Jessi Landua Kerr

Image Credits
Thank you to Nesto Meza for the reference photo/ inspiration for “All Things New.”

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.