My Name is Jessica Jackson, but I go by “Jess, the Artist”. Although I never went to school for art, nor studied it formally, I am an artist—a self-taught artist. What brought me to art and inspired this journey was my own struggle with depression, and the need for an outlet to process life and ground my thoughts. In Christmas 2019, my son received a sketch kit for Christmas but never touched it—so one day I decided to pick it up and draw a picture. Within two weeks after I drew my first picture, I picked up a paintbrush and painted my first picture and from that moment, it has been nonstop—art became my therapy. I began obsessing with many concepts/ideas and would often go to YouTube and/or Google to figure out how to simply paint minor things (i.e. noses) or how to portray certain figures, lights and shadows. Once I learned ‘how’ to do this, it became easy to ‘emulate’ because I could just paint the pictures I saw in my mind—which quickly became something that I wanted to share and express creatively through my art. Through art therapy, I found my passion in art and I use it to express emotions, concepts, ideas, dreams, thoughts, etc.—art has now become my way of flowing through life. Painting has become my form of communication with the universe and thus the universe communicates back with me in every painting.
I am from Philadelphia, PA and grew up in Uptown, better known as Mt. Airy. I come from quite a mixed-up family dynamic, having many siblings on both sides of the family, from my mother and father. None of my siblings and I share the same parent, so I have come to have many ‘bonus’ parents and extended family members. Nonetheless, it is a family filled with lots of love and one that I can never replace.
School was never my thing—I loved to learn, but I struggled with the overall structure of school and felt like I could never fit in and/or make friends in any school I went to. I graduated from Roxborough High School in 2005 and went straight to Penn State Hazelton in Fall 2005 but soon found out by the end of my first semester that college just was not for me, so I decided not to return in Spring 2006 for my second semester. In an effort to ‘find my place in the world’, I joined the United States Army in December 2006 and spent five amazing years serving my country (2006-2011). While in the Army, I was afforded the opportunity to travel the world and live in Landstuhl, Germany for three years, where I worked as a Surgical Technician at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. It was here that I had my first child in 2010—a son and one of my proudest moments in life. Within a year of having my son, I decided to leave the Army with fears that I would one day deploy and be away from him for extended periods of time. Upon leaving the Army, my son and I moved back to Philadelphia in December 2011. Initially, moving back to my hometown and being a fresh veteran was not easy—I was able to find work as a Surgical Technician to leverage my prior experience in the Army but it was a struggle to find employment and remain sane because ‘civilian’ life outside of the Army was very different. Over time life improved and I later had a second child (a daughter) in 2014. Life had never been more complete with these two bundles of joy by my side—my children became my motivation and my reason to persevere through all of life’s trials and tribulations.
Between 2014 and 2019, in an effort to get a college degree and change careers, I bounced from one community college to the next and eventually transferred to Delaware State University, studying psychology. I picked psychology because I wanted to understand exactly how the mind worked and why, especially because I have my own struggles with severe depression and anxiety. During one semester, I took a class that emphasized how helpful art therapy was—in between life as a busy single mother, working as a surgical tech, going to school full-time, I made a few attempts at being an ‘artist’ but I never quite caught on because I couldn’t focus due to life’s other demands.
I have participated in exhibits at the Philly Art Collective Gallery in Philadelphia, PA and my works can also be found at the Moody Jones Gallery in Glenside, PA. I currently paint in the mediums of acrylic and pour paint. Some of my pieces also have dried paint pieces in them, which is the sacrifice of wasted paint on my pallets. I am heavily inspired by Frida Kahlo, Picasso, and Basquiat. When people see my work, I hope that they are inspired and at ease, even just a moment in time. My wish is that they see life through different eyes, hear with different ears, speak through different lips, and are urged to connect with another soul—I hope it encourages healing, hope, and happiness.
My current goal is to use art to spread mental health awareness and to promote peace.