We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Andersen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I have always known that the arts would be a big part of my life. I grew up in a tiny town in the Midwest, art was my safe space. I am the oldest of four girls and part of a large, extended family. Making art or reading books was where I went to find quiet, escape to other worlds or places, and daydream. Making is how I express myself, how I communicate. It’s my language. I always felt that I belonged in that space. Art has really ever been the only path for me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started college thinking that I would major in drawing and painting. I didn’t know that the field of Art Jewelry existed until I took an elective jewelry & metals course. I was hooked immediately and proceeded to take every class offered. I felt like jewelry was the best medium for what I had always wanted to express in a painting. There are many different areas, specializations, and fields in the world of jewelry and metalsmithing. Art jewelry uses many of the traditional jewelry/metalsmithing techniques but often does not limit itself to conventional materials to create wearable art. Art jewelry asks the question of why we wear jewelry and pushes the boundaries of what can be jewelry. After graduation, I felt a little lost. I bounced around, living in Austin for year, and then finally moving to San Diego for graduate school. At SDSU, I got the time to fine tune my work and discover what I was interested in. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to work a multitude of side jobs to support myself and my work. Applied and been rejected multiple times but you just have to keep putting yourself and your work out there. Many exhibitions and shows have been cancelled or postponed because of the pandemic. I’m really lucky to be able to have a space to work and continue to create opportunities to keep myself busy. Currently, I am making new work and preparing for a solo exhibition at Baltimore Jewelry Center to open at the end of May. Last November, I co-curated an exhibition titled, Digitally Yours, for New York City Jewelry Week with my friend, Steven KP. Digitally Yours was an interactive virtual exhibition that highlighted fifteen jewelers whose work explored relationships between digital worlds, communication, image and participation. You can listen to letters from the participating artists to their viewers and find more information on our website, www.digitallyyoursexhibition.com. I’m also working on a call for entry with a San Diego artist, Leslie Shershow for another exhibition, Hearts + Flowers, scheduled to be exhibited this Fall at Brooklyn Metal Works in New York. Hearts + Flowers will highlight artists who use themes of souvenir and nostalgia in their work. We will be launching the call soon, so those interested should follow our Instagram, @HeartsandFlowersExhibition.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There are so many amazing places and things to do and eat in San Diego! Every neighborhood here has so much to offer, and I know I leaving out so many. I look forward to the day when we can see a show at Tower Bar, the Casbah, or Soda Bar. Hang around North Park/University Heights area and pop in and out of breweries for a taste of the latest brew and move onto Lancers or Livewire. Ending the night, singing karaoke and sharing a fishbowl with friends at Redwing. If you’re lucky Jyoti-Bihanga is serving brunch on Sunday. Maybe hiking after in the San Pasqual Valley and then celebrating the day with a glass of wine at Cordiano Winery or Espinosa Vineyards. Barrio Logan is one of my favorite neighborhoods in San Diego. Walk the Block is every Saturday with art, food, and shops. Simon Limon is one of my favorite shops there. I get all my gifts there. You have to get a taco from Salud! and a beer from Border X Brewing. My favorite restaurant in all of San Diego is there too, Ciccia Osteria. I recommend everything on the menu! I feel like no trip to San Diego is complete without exploring the La Jolla coves and watching the seals. Eating burritos at Don Carlos Taco Shop after, and then taking a few tamales to go for later. Lately, I’ve been getting food to go when I can, usually from Thanh Tinh Chay, and eating at a park nearby. Sometimes biking around South Park or Bankers Hill area and then picking up treats from Kindred or Donna Jean and eating in Balboa Park. Or ordering a pizza kit from Blind Lady Ale House and having a quiet night at home with my husband.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am very privileged in my life to have such a supportive family, friends, and loved ones. I would like to dedicate this shoutout to all the teachers and teaching artists I have met that have guided me along my path. To the teachers who let me stay in from recess to work on my “extra” projects, and Mr. Kunze who started an after-school art class at my school, thank you. Jillian Moore, my first metals teacher, helped me find my passion. I am forever grateful to Sondra Sherman, my former professor, for taking a chance on me and the Jewelry + Metals program that she heads with Kerianne Quick at San Diego State University. Both Sondra and Keri have been fountains of wisdom, encouraging voices, and mentors, and have continued to be years after I’ve graduated. The Metals + Jewelry program is such a hidden gem at SDSU. My experience there has provided me with many professional opportunities and lasting connections. Thank you to all the teachers for sharing your passion, your talents, and for lifting up your students.