Artist Interview: Jessica Wheeler on making art and where it fits into living life

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Why did you choose to be an artist?

Ever since I can remember, I have had an appreciation towards the arts. I loved making art, and learning about it. My art teacher on the other hand, would use my work as an example of what not to do. After years of being told that I wasn’t talented, I started to think that my teacher was right. My grandmother on the other hand thought otherwise, and gave me the confidence and skills that I needed to pursue art as a lifelong career.

Is there a technique or medium that you haven’t tried but want to?

I would like to incorporate natural elements into my work. For instance, using actual birch bark in some of my paintings. I haven’t decided how I am going to do this, but it is something that I would like to experiment with in the near future.

What are your plans for after graduation?

After spring graduation, I will have my Art Degree, and I will be returning to MCLA in the fall to finish my Education Degree. After, I plan on finding a teaching position, ideally 1st grade, and plan on attending graduate school. Even though, I will be a teacher, I still have aspirations to continue to paint, and exhibit my work.

What other jobs have you done other than being an artist?

Besides being an artist, I have been many of things. This year I was a Resident Advisor in Townhouses. It is a demanding job, but it was worth the experience. On top of being an RA, I am a substitute teacher for several school districts around the Berkshires. I love having the opportunity to go into a classroom and interact with children, it makes me excited to have my own classroom some day.

Do you plan on being a full-time artist or do you plan on having a separate career along side of your artistic practices?

I don’t plan on being a full-time artist. My other passion is teaching. I plan on being a teacher full-time, and an artist part-time. Being a teacher has its perks, because I will get weekends off, winter, spring, and summer breaks off to give my full and undivided attention to art making.

See more about Jessica here. And be sure to check out her work in Elemental Connections: MCLA’s Senior Art Show!

Opening reception Thursday April 24th from 5pm to 7pm. Elemental Connections runs through May 25th  at MCLA Gallery 51, open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call the Gallery at 413-664-8718, or go to www.mcla.edu/gallery51.

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