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Jessa Huebing-Reitinger

AFC Conservation Artist of the Month for February, 2007

Many people may measure support for conservation efforts based on the amount of funding raised, donations given, or even the success of an event with a conservation focus. Jessa and her husband James have come up with an innovative way of drumming up support for conservation through the medium of art by building and developing a traveling, interactive, art and science exhibit. This Exhibit and Performance dubbed "Project InSECT" reaches millions of people on a personal level through press, media, and live one-on-one interaction in order to bring awareness and support for conservation and habitat issues. This approach makes conservation personal for everybody which stretches way beyond the thickness of a single wallet.Jessa and her husband inspire people and children to creatively use their voice about things that are important to them, like our planet, the wildlife, and their habitats. They do this through education, personal interaction, and giving them the creative tools to participate through action in their own community. Knowledge is power, especially when you have power in numbers. One example of their efforts is the now Federal listed Salt Creek tiger beetle of Lincoln Nebraska, which finally got its federal listing after 13 years of proposal. Many adults and school children wrote letters and drew pictures to send to the Fish and Wildlife Commission to be presented in the 13th Federal Court hearing of the Salt Creek tiger beetles' fate. The results were astounding. Jessa's art has found a voice with the people, not because of funding, donations, or events, but because of attention to detail, tenacious perseverance, and inspiration for the average joe. To read more about the Endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle and see the paintings visit www.projectinsect.com/gallery/terieII_spec.htm  
 
Jessa Huebing-Reitinger was born in Wisconsin in 1971. Her career as a visual artist began at the age of 12 with her first commission. In 1989, Jessa was accepted to the Kansas City Art Institute and in 1993 she graduated with a B.F.A. degree in painting.By 2001, Jessa had completed over 50 commissioned large scale paintings for private and corporate collections nationally, including John Deere and General Electric. Despite Jessa's success, her heart was no longer in it and so a search began for her creative destiny. In late 2002, God inspired Jessa with a vision to paint large robust portraits of insects using a specimen and a microscope. Her husband James Reitinger, in support of the idea, thought the paintings should be executed and performed within a public space so the process of the paintings would become educational. The idea grew into "Project InSECT", an interactive and creative traveling exhibition that evolves on a daily basis through live performance. After teaming up with entomologists from the Kansas State University Insect Zoo and Kansas University, Project InSECT was born. Jessa began her first live performance in May 2003 and has exhibited within several science museums, zoos, art centers, botanical gardens, libraries, and universities across the Midwest. It is estimated that Jessa Huebing-Reitinger has performed for over 1.2 million people since the birth of Project InSECT and yet continues to build the size of the exhibition, within each location. This has led Jessa to produce 22 completed insect portraits in just 3 years, and has already been revered by many as the "John James Audubon of insects". As a performance painter, Jessa accepts many challenges daily. Her creative aspirations have found her at center stage where the environment and focus changes from second to second. There is physical and mental pressure when painting microscopic details of an insect on an enormous canvas while balancing on a ladder in front of an audience. There is also great reward and joy when the audience interacts, learns, and understands something they haven't seen before. With a combination of a subject that binds us as human beings and interaction with an audience who knows or cares little about them makes for a magical experience. The process and outcome of Jessa's work has become full of life, thanks to the crazy idea of creating art for the sole purpose of education and conservation.

Previous Conservation Artists of the Month

(October, 2017)
(September, 2017)
(August, 2017)
(July, 2017)
(June, 2017)
(May, 2017)
(April, 2017)
(March, 2017)
(February, 2017)
(January, 2017)
(December, 2016)
(November, 2016)
(October, 2016)
(September, 2016)
(August, 2016)
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