Ifrah Mansour, 2020
Mixed Media, Fiber
10″ 2/8 x 13″ 2/8

Jennifer Jesseph: Who is She?

March 17 – July 11, 2021

Artist Talk | Thursday, April 8 at 5:00pm on Zoom | Click here for details

Jennifer Jesseph is a poet and self-taught fiber and mixed media artist living in rural Pine Island, Minnesota. Jennifer has been working on fiber art in the two dimensional form for the past four years. She enjoys working in abstract portraits and has been currently doing this with watercolors, acrylics, and oil paints. Through her portraits she aims to empower both the subject and the viewer.

Exhibition Statement

The inspiration for the exhibition Who Is She? originated when I stumbled upon the story of Lilly Yokio who, in the 1960s and 1970s, was well known and respected among the Circus community for her ability to do complex and surprising tricks on her bicycle. Yokio was the first woman to ride a golden BMX bicycle in high heels.

As I learned more about Yokio, I started asking myself: why wasn’t her incredible story still not widely known by the larger public? Historically, women (and especially women of color or with disabilities) have been left out from the mainstream narrative, and their contributions to society are yet to be recognized.

In an attempt to celebrate Lilly, and many other women like her, I use fiber art and portraiture to highlight the faces and stories of female heroes who made our world a better place. The meticulously detailed, repetitive and slow process of making stitched portraits brought me closer to the stories of my subjects. My goal is to inspire curiosity and discovery in the viewers, hoping they will engage with these stories and that it will bring a change of perspective, where the lives of female heroes will become more common in our recordings of history.

The ROOTED program at Rochester Art Center is open to artists living and working in the eleven counties surrounding Rochester and showcases the most innovative and talented artists from the region. For artists who have received artist grants from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC), Rochester Art Center provides gallery space to showcase the art by the grantee. Art Center curatorial staff provides grant application support, studio visits and exhibition space, but do not select the artists, who are chosen by SEMAC jury. ROOTED exemplifies the commitment of RAC to be a central hub for art made in Southeastern Minnesota.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts & cultural heritage fund.