Jessica Kitzman and I connected through Stay Home Gallery where we are both represented for 2021!! It has been such a joy to get to know her and her art practice through the gallery and it was nice to connect about teaching in this conversation.
Jessica talked about her path to teaching through Americorps and how being in a classroom full of kids making art re-ignited her art practice. She shared how discovering TAB and shifting to a choice-based pedagogy felt right and led her to expand her own art career as well. “Opening up freedom for my students did the same for me.” Being intentional about our choices as teachers and holding ourselves accountable for who, what, and how we share with students is so important.
I loved hearing about her work and the ideas she’s exploring through materials with so much embedded meaning. She uses thrifted fabrics, National Geographic magazines handed down from her grandparents, and scraps with layers of meaning. The way she has shifted her practice over time was inspiring. Jessica moved from photography to painting to playing with materials inspired by her students. She shared how her concepts and the way she was writing about her work drove her work to shift and pushed her to explore textiles. It felt powerful in vulnerability to hear how her use of scraps is a metaphor for her own life – she said “I was in pieces also” and talked about putting the pieces back together in this textile practice that is connected to her collage work. I’m excited to see how her work evolves!
Jessica Kitzman lives in Minneapolis, MN and currently teaches photography at Richfield High School. Jessica has taught art since earning an MAT at the School of Visual Arts, NYC in 2009, and has taught all grades, K-12. Jessica is a working artist represented by Stay Home Gallery in Tennessee. She works primarily with collage and textiles, exploring personal/cultural history and the identity tensions of queer single motherhood. She has been a contributing art educator for 2 publications from the Teachers College Press at Columbia, Studio Thinking from the Start, and Engaging Learners through Artmaking. Both of these publications frame the classroom as the studio and the child as the artist and advocate for creative agency and power for all kids, a value central to her teaching practice.