Jessica Craig is an emerging mixed media artist, born and raised in Greater Vancouver. Her passion for painting is deeply rooted from her childhood, it was a place to escape from reality, a place to ease the mind, express and immerse in imagination. In the last few years, Jessica went from painting as a hobby to carving out an art career. Approximately, three years ago she moved her art practice from her apartment den to Eastside Atelier. From there, her works, style, themes and confidence flourished.
Upon her second year participating with the Eastside Culture Craw in 2020, one of her pieces landed on the cover of Georgia Straight and another piece on the Globe & Mail’s Art and Pursuits section. Since then, she has been working on a large-scale painting series depicting the frontline nurses’ pandemic experience through the grant contribution from Canada Council for the Arts. Jessica’s works are often described as psychological, emotional, and riveting in nature. This artistic inquiry is motivated by a career in advocacy in the DTES, and her dual bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and nursing.
Which Hood are you in?
My art studio is located in Eastside Atelier in the industrial sector of Vancouver. If you don’t know, this industrial district is a hub of art studios and a diversity of artists, there are approx. over 400 art studios in the area. You likely do not know, but Eastside Atelier, once known as William Clark Studios, is one of the oldest art studios in Vancouver. Approx forty years ago it was a clothing factor, occasionally you can find little clothing pins in-between the floorboards, but for the last 30 or more years, it has been a pocket of art studios. I am so proud to be part of the special historical art studio and be part of its historical thread. If you come to my studio, you will know it’s my studio with an array of plants by the window, and I have an old barber chair covered in paint tucked into the corner.
Also, I have the best studio mate ever, Janine Breck, we are a package deal. We inspire and encourage each other in our creative pursuits!
What do I do?
I am a mix media 2-dimensional artist. I primarily work with oil, acrylic, pastel, charcoal and discarded materials. My mark-making can be explosive and unpredictable at times, while at other moments, I can slow my markdown to elicit meaningful details. My mood and the imagery I want to portray will often determine the medium and style I work with that day. Some days, I crave unconscious liberating marks with no agenda, and other times, I have an emotion in mind I want to depict in a figure’s eye that requires stillness.
Along with being an emerging local artist, I work as a registered nurse in the DTES. I have worked in the DTES for nearly 9 years in varying jobs and roles, and in more recent years as an RN. I find incredible inspiration of perseverance and resilience both from the clients we support and also from my clinical colleagues and the Support Workers working in the buildings. Along with my art and nursing career, I’m also part of an incredible community of local artists at Eastside Atelier. For the past year, I was the studio building coordinator, which meant I supported new or existing artists within the studio.
Along with other in-house artists, I helped to shape the community bond we have now. If you haven’t been in, Eastside Atelier has over 40 art studios, and as you can imagine, it is filled with a variety of art, from woodworking, and pottery, to alcohol inks, to large-scale paintings, tattooing and jewelry. We have it all. I’m so proud of this group, and I’m thrilled to announce, that we are planning our first in-house Group Show “Escape Into Art” on June 3rd and June 4th. So come by!
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. I was so grateful and honoured to receive this opportunity last year. The Grant was originally called “Covid through the eyes of a nurse and artist.” Even inspiration from my nursing career and sociological critical inquiry finds its way into my art. I have been chatting with Canadian nurses over the last year, getting a deeply personal look at their experience working in the frontlines of Covid.
I have met with approx. 15 nurses from varying fields, and plan to meet with more from other provinces to better represent the intimate experience of what it has been like to be a nurse over the last few years. I am still looking for nurses to participate if you can put the word out there for me. Upon the completion of this grant, I will be reaching out to hospitals’ galleries and community art galleries to showcase and hopefully inspire Canadians to immerse themselves in the world of nursing for a brief artistic moment. I definitely carved out quite the project, the next piece I will begin on with this project will be 9x5ft. This is the largest scale I have worked on yet, so stay tuned and wish me luck!
Where can we find your work?
If you have not heard of First Saturdays, check it out. You will find my name, along with other local artists from Vancouver and North Vancouver. We open up our studios for personal visits every first Saturday of the month. You are welcome to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more questions.