Project 1612: How would you describe the art you make?
Jaci: My work is abstract, intuitive, colorful and bold. The focus shifts and bends naturally with the rhythm of my life. As I live I create. My process is an exploration and expression of my emotions. I choose to work with acrylic paint and mixed media to explore themes of Infertility, Mental Health, Depression, Anxiety, Human Connection and Self- love. There is a portion of my work that focuses on conveying specific messages, whether that be a storytelling abstract, or a piece in my “I AM ENOUGH” series. All of my work comes from a deep longing to connect, to be understood and to express myself.
Project 1612: When did you start taking yourself seriously as an artist?
Jaci: The shift began in 2014. I started actively working on the way I thought about myself. I would say that I fully embraced my identity as an artist early in 2015. However, there are still days I find myself needing validation.
Project 1612: What drives your practice?
Jaci: Some days, I wake up and I feel in my bones the need to create. The need to paint and sing and write and make and move. Other days it is further from my grasp. My practice is really at its core, for me. I am not working to produce, or to “succeed”, I do it because it makes me feel alive. And I have found that using my artistic expression touches lives, empowers others, brings joy and healing, which helps me to recognize that I am exactly where and who I need to be. Who I was created to be. And it’s fun, I really enjoy what I do.
Project 1612: What problems do you face in the studio? How do you overcome them?
Jaci: My problems in the studio stem from my humanity. It’s too hot, I arrive and I am hungry, I need a nap, I have more stuff than space to put it or they are things that are out of my control... a seeping wall that leaks when it rains. I try my best to shift my perspective so that these issues become opportunities.
A year ago, when I took a leap of faith and moved in, I worried that the cost associated with having a studio outside of my home would be a huge issue, luckily that hasn’t been a problem. But I am human, so I worry and I don’t enjoy being uncomfortable. I try to adapt. I bought a love seat for a cozy place to rest and reflect. I bring fans in and adjust my studio hours when the heat is too much. I clear the area near the seeping wall. I try not to put too much pressure on myself if depression or anxiety has me away from the studio too long. I actively work to be gentle with myself and to remember that it is a joy and a privilege to do what I do.
Project 1612: Can you talk about your first series, Healing Collection?
Jaci: The Healing Collection is a compilation of work that I created from the beginning of my art journey up until my first solo exhibit in fall of 2016. It was during this time of my life that my husband and I were several years into our Infertility journey and I had come to a point where I needed to actively work on ways to pull myself out of a despair. I was struggling to cope, dealing with depression, anxiety and the trauma of undergoing treatment. Each of the paintings created space for healing. Painting became a new path of coping with the struggles I was navigating. It was a safe place for me to allow myself to explore all of my emotions. It was also a safe place for me to have a reprieve from the stress and uncertainty of my life. When preparing for my first art exhibit at The Art Garage, I reflected on the work I had been creating. As I looked back on that period of time that I created these pieces they were truly all little lifeboats of healing for me. I didn’t intend for them to become a collection, but they were so obviously a documentation of my healing journey that they took on the name.
Project 1612: You recently started a new collaborative project, can you tell us more about that?
Jaci: I am so excited about this experimental project. It is a live/recorded video collaboration series called “In the Company of Mavens”. I have a core team of local female artists that are working with me to launch this idea. Our goal is to collaborate with one another and other local artists to create a community of female-led creative content that will inspire and connect the community of emerging local artists and the community of Peoria. Each episode will be a combination of recorded content and live video streaming from my studio in The Sunbeam Building. The idea is to invite viewers behind the scenes of our creative collaboration, allowing the viewer to see the ways we each express ourselves, our creative process and how we interact with one another. The first episode will be released early April 2018. It will feature myself and Sarah Nesbit as well as, two local female musicians Sarah Marie (Dillard) Mooberry and Jessica Wilson. We intend to release no less than 8 videos with the hope of having a special art exhibit featuring the work created during the filming of the series later in 2018.
Project 1612: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Jaci: Start. Do. Create. Work to quiet the voice of self-judgment. Explore. Remember that you are in charge of how you feel and think about the work you create. Be patient. Things may not fall into place as quickly as you hope, but working on the things that make you feel alive and energized will, over time, become a body of work that will speak to your authentic self. The act of creating, the process of it… will change and lead and shape you, let it. And when you feel scared, lean into that, life is so scary and putting yourself out there is a risk, but it is the only way worth living. Lastly, believe in your voice, your unique perspective, your story… only you can tell it.
Project 1612: What are your thoughts on the art community in Central IL?
Jaci: I am thrilled to be a part of the art community in Central Il. It has been so welcoming and encouraging to me to take my biggest leaps here. I am amazed and encouraged by the sheer number of talented artists living and working here. I feel like the community is growing and I hope to see it become an even MORE valued, vital and vibrant asset to the region.
Jack Musec is an artist based in Peoria, IL.