JSC alumna exhibits artwork


Hunter Mallette

Jessie Warren

Jessie Warren, a local Johnson State College alumna of 2014, is exhibiting “Living,” her first art show post-graduation at Johnson’s Dream Café from Feb. 17-March 17.

As a self-proclaimed documentary photographer, Warren studied media arts and anthropology and sociology at JSC, which allowed her to study people along with the processes to document them digitally.

“I knew I wanted to go somewhere far away for school, but stay in reasonable distance of Connecticut,” said Warren. “My mom and I drove up in our all-season tires during a huge blizzard, not knowing the accepted students day had been cancelled. And JSC just stuck. That was also the first day I set foot in the [café] too.”

“Living” features several photographs of local artists living their day-to-day lives. “It started off as me wanting to document local artists because that is relevant to me, because I am constantly interacting with artists daily,” Warren said. “It is sort of like ethnographic field work; you have to be involved in something to photograph it well.”

The idea of the show slowly progressed and was initially just about artists she knew, but then it expanded to photographing aspects of artists’ lives beyond their creative works. Warren’s message is that artists are not defined by their work.

“I then realized this just wasn’t about artists, but it was about people in my life. It was a memoir of 2015, and it is more of a photo series documenting people in my life, who happen to mostly be artists,” Warren said. “I added the focus of home life, to parallel studio life.”

Warren was the first-ever media arts major, back when it was established in 2014. “Sean Clute and John Miller [art professors at JSC] were especially helpful to me in developing my art background,” Warren said. “In college, I learned that, in the art world, networking is the most important thing. I’m not doing super well in the art world, but I have a lot of people at my disposal even here in Johnson.”

Since Warren has lived in Vermont for five years, she has local ties and works at the Vermont Studio Center, The Dream Café, and the Clarina Howard Center. “A lot of the professors I had as an undergrad I see at the Vermont Studio Center, and it is interesting to now be good friends with these people who have taught me, as an adult,” said Warren.

Obsessed with people, she hopes to someday travel and make a documentary film. Her inspiration comes from many people in her life, but also artists she has never met. “Davis Ayer is just some weird photographer that I happened upon and became attached to,” she said. Ayer, a visual artist based in Los Angeles, is best known for using film and working with double exposures, as well as Photoshop, to manipulate portraits with light and vivid color.

Warren already has a next project brewing where she plans to document the experience of being a single mother, as she grew up in a single-parent household. This series will again focus on people she knows, as well as strangers.

Warren uses Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign to help create her images and the show-cards she created to publicize “Living.” The front of her show-card is a picture of what looks to be a cabin bedroom, with bongos hung on the wall and some folded laundry on the bed. The reverse depicts a black and white image of nearby woods with her title and event info, with an accompanying statement: “This isn’t real life. Look up.”

Her portfolio can be found on Facebook at Jessie Warren Photography.