BHSU student builds body of work in the Black Hills

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, May 5, 2015/Categories: 2015








           Jenna Kessler, art major from Rapid City, plans to continue building her portfolio after graduation with special projects in the Black Hills before applying to international graduate schools.



Jenna Kessler approaches her art step-by-step and piece-by-piece.

Jenna, an art major from Rapid City, arrived at Black Hills State University with a love of painting. But she&rsquoll graduate from BHSU this weekend as a well-rounded artist who now chooses sculpture as her choice of expression.

"There&rsquos a complexity in the steps of sculpture that I appreciate," said Jenna. "My education has brought out that appreciation in me."

Jenna&rsquos next steps after graduation include applying to international graduate schools. But first she&rsquoll continue to build her body of work in the Black Hills &ndash using actual bodies for a special project.

"I&rsquove had this idea for years but I didn&rsquot know how to execute it until now by using the skills I learned at BHSU," said Jenna.

Focusing on the beauty of different body types, Jenna will work with a fellow BHSU alumna Sheena Meyers to cast subject&rsquos bodies and sculpt pressed-paper molds of the forms.

"We&rsquore hoping to work with models who are breast cancer survivors, those who&rsquove just had children, and individuals who struggle to gain or lose weight. Our goal is to expand the ideas of beauty instead of, ironically, just the mold of the perfect person."

During her time at BHSU, Jenna participated in exhibitions at the Washington Pavilion and Matthews Opera House, opportunities she says pushed her to take bold risks with her art.

"Many people feel you could create art without a degree, but I&rsquove learned new skills and gained an appreciation of different art styles and cultures through my education," said Jenna.

Step-by-step and piece-by-piece, Jenna is building her portfolio as a distinctive artist.

Erica Merchant, adjunct professor of art at BHSU, invited Jenna to partake in Sculpture in the Hills this summer, an annual sculpture show featuring renowned sculptors working with stone, bronze and mixed media.

"My body of work for Sculpture in the Hills will be more textual, using design patterns and repetition with bison, deer, and rainbow trout. I&rsquoll focus on the culture of the Black Hills while also emphasizing my own artistic expression," said Jenna.


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