Jessie St. Clair notes that she has a lot on her plate raising young children and her day job as a middle school teacher, but she still finds time to make art she describes as “whimsical and bright and expressive.”
After graduating from the University of Calgary with a bachelor of fine arts degree in 2010, she met a group of artists and opened a studio space called Studio Cartel.
“That was very fun,” St. Clair says. “We made all kinds of bigger projects, for Beakerhead or for TEDx.”
The two have worked on several projects together, including a career highlight of St. Clair’s – a commissioned ladder-themed art installation for the City of Calgary.
“We just rounded up a ton of old ladders and we had a painting party,” St. Clair says.
“We had a bunch of people come over and paint the ladders and then we hung them up high, like 20 feet above, and there’s a stage with music below – so that was just really fun and different.”
Her personal artwork tends to feature animals, which she is passionate about.
“I think identity plays a huge role in art because your art is sort of a reflection of you and the things that you want to express and the things you care about,” she says. “One thing for me is I care a lot about animals and environmentalism.”
However, St. Clair still finds joy in making commissioned art for others, as she can pick and choose the opportunities she is interested in.
“For example, if somebody asked me to paint something that I wasn’t interested in, I would just say no,” St. Clair says. “But a lot of it is really, really fun and special and it kind of stretches you out of your comfort zone.”
St. Clair is passionate about the contributions artists have made to the city, adding she feels Calgary has become a more vibrant city than when she moved 17 years ago.
“They’re all the ones in the city that are making Calgary a more vibrant, exciting, colourful place to be, so we have to support the people that are making our city feel special and beautiful.”