Mary Jane Jessen

AFC Conservation Artist of the Month for April, 2011

Mary Jane Jessen's support for conservation is longstanding. She has donated a paintings to Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, Oceans of Art Retreat .  The proceeds from the paintings in the Oceans of Arts Gallery go towards the BMSC Public Education Program's bursary fund.

She has been a freelance book designer for New Society publishers for the past five years. New Society's mission is to publish books that contribute in fundamental ways to building an ecologically sustainable and just society, and to do so with the least possible impact upon the environment.

"Humankind is notorious for encroaching on natural waterways and abusing resources. In British Columbia, salmon streams are becoming endangered as human populations grow, and the reality of global warming sets in. Human arrogance leads many to believe they have the knowledge and ability to control nature, in turn leading them to exploit natural life-support systems in order to attain a profit and a degree of personal comfort. Contemporary society’s competitive tensions and materialistic attitudes mean that artistic images of environmental issues are all the more important.
Awareness and protection are the motivating factors behind the creation of my salmon spawn series. My aim is to enlighten the viewer to the social, political and environmental issues surrounding the Pacific salmon’s life cycle. I gather information in the field through photographs and video, as well as collecting natural materials, metals and found objects. My artistic process is dictated by the idea, whether it becomes a collage on canvas or a topographical surface made from plaster and found objects on panel. The result is a variety of surfaces that are expressive, tactile and aesthetic, and invite the viewer to touch and interact with the art.

The meanings derived from a painting can be as varied and numerous as the viewers that see the work. The mixed media materials in my work produce meaning that “is determined by the use of the thing, the way an audience uses a painting once it is put in public.”1 Tapies, Gordon Smith, and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun have all influenced my work and method of application through their theories on art and use of materials. By analyzing their work in its artistic and social context, I am able to position my own work within contemporary practice."

Mary Jane Jessen was born in Moncton, NB and moved to Victoria, BC with her family in 1969. She was always drawing and painting as a child and began taking private art lessons in the early 1970s. Over the years, she studied in several art institutions including Victoria College of Art, North Island College Campbell River and Malaspina University College. In addition to this, she studied painting with Victor Arcega for three years. In 2002, she graduated from Emily Carr University with a Bachelor of Fine Art in the Visual Arts.

Mary Jane has followed in the footsteps of many past and contemporary artists through her lengthy career in the graphic arts and commercial printing industry.

In 2003, Mary Jane started on a new career path that includes freelance book design for New Society Publishers, painting and teaching. She is a visiting artist at Gabriola Elementary's Art Club, and conducts school tours for the Nanaimo Art Gallery.

Previous Conservation Artists of the Month

(December, 2019)
(November, 2019)
(October, 2019)
(September, 2019)
(August, 2019)
(July, 2019)
(June, 2019)
(May, 2019)
(April, 2019)
(March, 2019)
(February, 2019)
(January, 2019)
(December, 2018)
(November, 2018)
(October, 2018)
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