Art helps build community connectedness

A few weeks ago Michael J. Solender interviewed me for the Duke Energy Illumination blog. We had a nice chat, talking about why supporting the arts is important and how it improves our communities. The interview is now live. Thank you Michael. Read the story below or on the Illumination blog.

Jessica Singerman in the studio
Photo Credit: Tim Bowman

Support for artists helps build creative spirit

Duke Energy’s arts grants contribute to quality of life in smaller North Carolina towns

Abstract landscape painter Jessica Singerman doesn’t live in a major art market like New York or London, so taking advantage of the digital universe helps bring her work to a wide audience.

She is developing her website to include digital video components to help demystify the creation process by sharing her approach and inspiration behind her art. That project got a boost with a 2018 Duke Energy Regional Artist Grant. The company, through the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, awarded nearly $25,000 to 14 area artists.

“Receiving the grant and seeing the support for artists, especially in smaller communities, demonstrate that our work is valued,” said Singerman of Winston-Salem, N.C. “Artists, especially in smaller communities, don’t have many opportunities like this, it means a lot.”

For artists working in music, film, literature, dance, visual art and craft and living in Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Stokes, Surry, and Yadkin counties in North Carolina, the regional artist grant program is making an impact. The company has given grants to arts councils in a number of other counties in the state, often supporting arts in schools.

“Investments in the arts are what make living in our communities more interesting and are a wonderful expression of the people that live in those communities,” said Amy Strecker of the Duke Energy Foundation. “One of the things that is great about funding arts programs in smaller communities is that there are not as many funding options as in some of our urban centers. This is a great way for us to continue to support artists who might have fewer opportunities available to them.”

The entire community benefits from a thriving arts culture, said Catherine Heitz New, deputy director of the Arts Council. Economic development, tourism and educational rewards are byproducts of creative entrepreneurs contributing to the fabric of cultural life in the region.

“These grants give artists the space, time and resources to experiment and develop ideas that become great art,” she said. “This is so important for artists and creative entrepreneurs and essential for us in fulfilling our reputation because they are the lifeblood of the cultural ecosystem.

“A vibrant arts culture is a significant driver behind the ability to recruit and retain talent into the community. From the standpoint of education, arts programing is an essential part of what sets Forsyth County schools apart and has allowed them to become a leader in many ways with regards to arts education.”

Jimmy Flythe, Duke Energy’s west region community relations manager, sees the difference the support can make.

“When companies look to move here and are evaluating our community,” Flythe said, “it’s important to show them the vibrancy and strong quality of life in our area. The arts are definitely a large part of that.”

For Singerman, “Art helps build community connectedness. The process of creation is not linear. Without a defined end goal of getting something done, art gives people the opportunity to dream and experience the joy associated with that. Through exploration and conversation, art can help create empathy and understanding of others. It’s wonderful to be part of that broader discussion.”

Artist Talk: Demystifying Abstraction

On Wednesday April 25th, the Charlotte Millennial Art Program invited me to speak at Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art in Charlotte, NC. In this lecture, “Demystifying Abstraction,” I share a brief history of abstraction, talk about my painting process, inspiration, life as an artist, and why making art matters. The talk is followed by a Q&A session where we go into more detail about my education, philosophy, and where art comes from.

Morning Walks

I walk in the mornings after bringing Noah to school. I look, listen, breathe. I take in the shapes of light and shadow, the myriad greens, the pinks, violets, reds, birdsong, my favorite wind chime. I get as close as I can to birds before they fly away, try to get close enough to see their tiny chests moving with their breath. I look up at the big sky, taking in the sunlight-filled blues, the racing clouds, or the broad plush grays. My morning walks are one of my favorite parts of my day. Moving, feeling the cold or warm air on my face, thinking, sometimes even figuring things out! I take the light, shapes, colors, sounds, smells, back to my studio. I’ll keep trying to filter all of these experiences into my painting.

A hike on Pilot Mountain

A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary by hiking at our beloved Pilot Mountain. The state park is located thirty minutes North-West of Winston Salem. We enjoy hiking there year-round and camping there in the shoulder season.  This mountain is my current obsession and the inspiration for the series of paintings I’m working on. Between the rock, trees, sky, earth, air, and birdsong, Pilot Mountain is IT. I’ll share with you a little bit of the Ledge Spring trail in the video below. Enjoy!

Jessica Awarded 2018 Duke Energy Regional Artist Grant

2018 Duke Energy Regional Artist Grant Recipients
2018 Duke Energy Regional Artist Grant Recipients – Photo credit: Owens Daniels

I’m excited to announce that I was awarded a 2018 Duke Energy Regional Artist Grant! Thank you Arts Council of Winston Salem and Forsyth County and Duke Energy for believing in my work, and congratulations to the other recipients. Read below for the press release from Yes! Weekly.

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County has made 14 awards to local artists through its Duke Energy Regional Artist Grant program. A total of $24,500 will allow the artists to further their artistic professional development through a specific project.

Award recipients include Kate Carey (Literature/Davidson Co.), Mike Chamis (Film/Forsyth Co.), Amy da Luz (Theatre/Forsyth Co.), Owens Daniels (Visual Art, Forsyth Co.), Zach Deas (Craft/Davie Co.), Marianne DiNapoli-Mylet (Visual Art, Forsyth Co.), Nathan Ross Freeman (Film/Forsyth Co.), Kendra Harding (Music/Forsyth Co.), Cashavelly Morrison (Music/Forsyth Co.), Zach McCraw (Visual Art/Stokes Co.), David Petty (Storytelling/Forsyth Co.), Leo Rucker (Visual Art/Forsyth Co.), Jessica Singerman (Visual Art/Forsyth Co.), and Will Willner (Visual Art/Forsyth Co.).

14 local artists receive a total of $24,500 in career-development awards

Regional artist grants are available to artists working in the disciplines of music, film, literature, dance, visual art and craft and residing in Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Stokes, Surry, and Yadkin counties. The program is sponsored by Duke Energy and supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

“We are especially pleased with the variety of artistic projects that these artists will be working on this year,” said Dara Silver, Grant Program Manager for The Arts Council. “These awards are a way The Arts Council invests in our local creative entrepreneurs by helping them move forward a project so that they can leverage additional opportunities and commissions.”

Cashavelly Morrison is an American-Alt Country singer and songwriter whose debut album The Kingdom Belongs to a Child received the Independent Music Award for Best Alt Country Album. This grant will support the completion efforts of their second album, Hunger. “We’ve been writing and recording our second studio album for two years, and now because of this grant, we can complete the mixing, mastering, and printing to get it out into the world at a time when the songs will be particularly timely and culturally relevant. It’s support like this that makes the artistic dreams of working parents possible,” said Cashavelly Morrison.

Nathan Freeman is an award winning screenwriter, director, and filmmaker. This grant will support the production of his next feature film, Gem, about an Archangel named Gem who is involved in a prophetic story of religions at war. Nathan said, “This award is most appreciated and will support the film needs of Gem by helping to cover costs for the local hiring of costume and design and production artists.”

Jessica Singerman is an award recognized artist and received her MFA from the University of Delaware. Her works are inspired by the poetry of nature’s changing color, light, and the passing of time. This grant will allow her to obtain a professional photography and video equipment to support the marketing efforts of her works on her website, blog, and social media. “This grant is an investment in the infrastructure of my career as a working artist. It will help me to better document my work and to build my web presence. Having an internet presence is vital for an artist because it allows them share their work worldwide. Viewers are able to gain a deeper understanding of my work and process and it is a way to share that process with other artists who are still learning and exploring their craft.”

Winston-Salem, known as a City of Arts and Innovation, and Forsyth County have a robust arts community that enriches the lives of area residents every day and accounts in large part for the recognition they continue to receive as a great place to live, learn, work and play. The Arts Council raises funds and advocates for the arts, sponsors events in conjunction with other arts organizations, promotes and funds arts education, creates cultural and learning opportunities, develops social capital and aids economic development. Last year, The Arts Council made 98 awards totaling $1,699,500.

The Field You Think You Own

The Field You Think You Own, oil and acrylic on canvas, 40 x 60 inches, 2014

This is “The Field You Think You Own.”  I’ll share with you where the name for this painting comes from.

When I lived in Cornelius, NC, there was a nearby field that I would go paint. The space was vast, and there were areas covered with trees. Each time I returned to the field to paint, the landscape had changed. The tree line receded. A development was built near the trees, then little by little more houses and apartments were built. Then a shopping center was added. The field disappeared. This painting is a love letter to that field.

This painting is currently on view at Elder Gallery in Charlotte, NC.

My travel watercolor and drawing kit

In this video I’ll share with you what I pack in my travel painting and drawing kit. I’ll show you how to carry just a small kit for drawing, and what to add if you want to paint with watercolors. Find out what type of pens and other drawing supplies I use, as well as which particular colors and brushes are in my portable watercolor kit.

My outdoor oil painting kit

I made this pochade box to use for plein air oil painting over 15 years ago and it’s still going strong. To give you a bit of background, a pochade box is traditionally made of wood, has a hinged lid that acts as an easel, a storage box to hold your supplies, and holds a palette. The concept of plein air painting started in the time of the French Impressionists who painted outdoors with the help of the cutting edge tube paints that became readily available in the 19th century. Before paint in tubes, painting outdoors was unwieldy. So here we go: I’ll share with you my kit for painting outside with oil paint.

A Portrait of an Artist

Me somewhere in the Pyrénées in 1987

I grew up in a bicultural household. My father is American and my mother French. French was my first language and I learned to speak English in kindergarten. I remember the very distinct feeling of not knowing what the heck was going on while sitting cross legged on the classroom floor. We moved around a lot: from Maine to North Carolina, to France where we lived in Montpellier, the suburbs of Paris, and Tours, and back to North Carolina. Then I made my way north through school: undergrad in Virginia, grad school in Delaware – studying studio art then focusing on painting in grad school. After falling in love with cycling during school, I met my future husband at a bike race in Pennsylvania and moved in with him in Philadelphia. While working as an artist, I also worked in adventure travel, raced bikes, taught yoga and art as an adjunct. We moved to Australia where our son was born, then back Stateside to North Carolina where we settled in Winston-Salem.

Throughout all the moving around over the years, the constant has been art-making. I have figured out that I am my best self when I regularly sustain my artistic practice. I have a visceral need to create. It’s how I connect to the world and how I make sense of things.

on the way to Bodega Bay in California… Photo Credit: Rebecca Falls

I have juggled many jobs, but over the last 13 years I have balanced two careers, one in the adventure travel industry and one as an artist. In 2005 I had been out of grad school for a year, was teaching art at University of Delaware and working at a bike shop when I first saw a Trek Travel catalog. I looked them up and saw they were looking for new guides. After a notoriously grueling hiring process, I got the job. It has taken me 13 years to figure out how to successfully juggle my work with Trek Travel and my art career. I started as a guide and now work primarily as a Trip Designer, allowing me to work mostly from home, where I also maintain an art studio. The outside spaces I’ve been lucky enough to work in over the last decade have been perfect fodder for my imagination and are a constant source of inspiration in my artwork.

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