We had the good fortune of connecting with Teressa Jackson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Teressa, how do you think about risk?
I open my artist’s statement with the assertion that “safety and magic rarely intersect.” I have found that life is most worth living when it is a little bit scary. I have embraced this sentiment more and more with age, and made great peace with the prospect of risk. When I graduated with an art degree 20+ years ago, I couldn’t picture myself living life as an artist because of the uncertainty that accompanies that line of work. Instead, I spent the better part of twenty years working in non-profit management. Even in that line of work, though, I came to see the importance of risk taking in attaining worthwhile results. Most things of value come from risk, no matter what line of work you pursue. I believe that this realization led to the big life change I undertook four years ago, which was a momentous exercise in risk. I left my job, sold my house and most of my possessions, spent a year traveling and making art, and ultimately settled 1,500 miles away from my hometown. This leap of faith enabled me to reinvent myself in a line of work that I love but once thought impossible in a locale that inspires me. Now, as a professional artist, my challenge is to continue to take risks in my art to facilitate the continued growth and development of my creative expression. Experimentation with subject matter, style, approach, and materials keeps my art practice fresh and fun.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a painter, working primarily in watercolor and gouache on paper. I enjoy bringing happy and often whimsical scenes to my viewers, depicting the magic I find in the natural world that surrounds me. I am fond of irony and humor and believe these qualities often shine through in my creations. I am most proud when someone says that my art is beautiful and/or makes them smile. I don’t think that anyone would ever say that being a full-time professional artist is easy. It requires a tremendous amount of hard work, diligence, and dedication. You also have to be vulnerable in a very personal way that isn’t required in most jobs. Each time you publicize a new work, you are opening your raw self to criticism or praise, victory or defeat. I would encourage anyone who enjoys an artist’s work to actively support and promote them. This doesn’t always mean purchasing their creations; simply “liking” or sharing on social media or saying a few kind words means so much.
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.
I often say that I missed my calling as a travel agent. I absolutely love planning itineraries for visitors. Day one: A drive up South Mountain gives a wonderful view of the valley to help visitors get their bearings. On the way down (or up), stop for a bite to eat at Cocina Madrigal for some phenomenal Mexican food. Day two: A quick peek through the hole in the rock at Papago Park followed by a day in the magical Desert Botanical Garden. Day three: The Heard Museum has a wonderful and unique combination of art and culture, and can be combined with visits to the Phoenix Art Museum and other cultural institutions along Central Avenue. Day four: Go for a morning hike at Usery Mountain’s Wind Cave Trail and check out the Superstition Mountains. Grab some authentic Asian food in Mesa on your way back into town. Day five: Hit Sedona or Tucson for the day. Day six: Chow down on some amazing tacos from Tacos Chiwas, grab an ice cream from Sweet Republic, then head out to Scottsdale and tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West (be sure to buy tickets ahead of time). Day seven: Are you tired yet? Enjoy a leisurely day around town with a visit to the Farm at South Mountain and an exploration of Roosevelt Row.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I don’t think I fully realized the extent of my personal and professional network when I changed careers. Without the support of so many people with whom I was connected in my previous life, I would not be where I am today. I have been amazed, flattered, and honored that a great number of my former colleagues and professional connections have purchased my creations. It makes my day and brings a huge smile to my face every single time it happens.
Teressa L. Jackson