In addition to directing the fine arts for a number of Boys and Girls Clubs throughout Weld County, Jesse is also a freelance artist and works out of the Downtown Artery in Fort Collins. Eventually, he’d like to open a science and art afterschool center with his wife, Morgan ’13, a science educator.
What first interested you in art?
When I was a kid I used to draw pictures of Batman during church. A lot of people told me I was good at drawing, and that ignited the initial spark. I continued to draw through middle school and high school, and my high school art teacher really helped me to believe in my own ability. It was because of him that I decided to major in art. But my decision to pursue a career in art after college was heavily influenced by the success of my senior art show at Northwestern and the support of Yun Shin, my advanced painting professor. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, she really challenged me to be a better and more committed artist. It was because of her influence that I discovered my full potential.
What do you most appreciate about the art department?
First off, props to Northwestern for their awesome facility. I have seen a lot of Division 1 schools with facilities not as nice as ours. The Korver Art Center was a huge blessing to work in, and I wish I took more advantage of it when I was there. Next, I really appreciated the art professors. They made the art department really incredible, even in the years after I graduated. The professors exposed us to new mediums and really pushed us to step outside our comfort zones when it came to creating. You can see the evidence of that in some of the awesome sculptures that have come out of the art department just in the last year.
How has Northwestern prepared you for your career?
My job requires a lot of curriculum development in all of the fine arts, including performance and visual arts. My experience being in the Black V improv group, RUSH student dance concert, and performing at some other NWC events really gave me the knowledge I needed to develop curriculum in areas like theatre, dance and music. My education classes gave me the ability to create curriculum, because I wouldn’t even know what a lesson plan looked like if not for those classes. And as far as being an artist, I wouldn’t have thought about pursuing that lifestyle if not for the success I experienced at Northwestern.
Beyond preparation in the content I’m involved in, I feel like Northwestern provided me with a lot of social and professional skills as well. The conversations with my friends in my dorm helped me to learn how to listen and give valuable input. My experience as a dorm spiritual intern gave me confidence in event planning and implementation. Conversations with professors prepared me for conversations with business owners, managers, bosses and other professionals. NWC helped me so much in getting me to where I am today.
How was your faith strengthened at Northwestern?
As a lifelong artist, I really related well to biblical passages about the blind gaining sight. Northwestern challenged my childlike thoughts of exclusivity. Before Northwestern, I believed that only a Christian could “give sight.” However, my studies at Northwestern ultimately taught me that everyone is blind to different things. It’s still the work of the artist to enlighten, but everyone has something they’re ignorant to. I think that because of my education at Northwestern, my faith and theology are more inclusive and compassionate.