Unquote: Jessa Gilbert

a collage of photos arranged around the name "Jessa Gilbert" in black font on a white background


This post is a part of our Unquote series.

As journalists and content writers the Writer’s Block Solutions team has the opportunity to speak with tons of incredible people. However, depending on the assignment, sometimes a brief interview is edited down to a single quote in a short article. That’s why we’ve decided to share some of our favourite interview excerpts in an ongoing series we’re calling: Unquote.

While interviewing Artist Jessa Gilbert about a mural she completed for the Salmo Valley Youth & Community Centre Society building, Val asked what drew Jessa to the mountains and landscape as a subject matter.


“I grew up in New York State originally. I started walking around and snowboarding in the mountains kind of at a young age—not in any particularly extreme way, but generally. You know, there were very rolling hillsides and every now and then we’d take a trip out to California or Colorado and see these real mountains. Then I started exploring portraiture more in my artwork.

In university I studied colour theory and mostly painted people. I became interested in motion over time—mostly through dance and the mechanics of body—but it wasn’t until I moved to Vancouver in 2013 that I really started to explore what you could do with landscape. Like how do you turn landscape into something that feels more like a portrait? How do you articulate its personality?

I didn’t want to be another Bob Ross landscape painter or to articulate the finest curves and every leaf; I didn’t really think that literal articulation was something that we needed more of. But I was searching for a connection between the outdoor community that I loved being part of, with snowboarding and hiking and exploring, and the art world that I loved inhabiting, too. But I couldn’t see myself as the artist type that’s staying up late every night and chain smoking cigarettes and being moody and broody and wearing black, and going to galleries—that didn’t work for me.

So I started playfully exploring line work and drawing in the mountains. I tried to show in paintings and drawings what I was experiencing and seeing there. At first it was just for my family back on the East Coast. I was like, “Look! These mountains are huge. Look at the scale of this!” The only way I could fully articulate it was through drawing and it’s kind of developed since then, from my honest arduous pursuit of trying to show how incredible it feels to spend time outside.”

See more of Jessa’s stunning work at jessagilbert.com

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