Manchester University
Oak Leaves

April 7, 2017

Jessica Klemm by Haylee Parish

Senior Art major Jessica Klemm
Photo courtesy of Haylee Parrish

Senior Art Major Showcases Work 

Kelleen Cullison

Add a pinch of nostalgia, a friendly sibling rivalry and the wonders of nature; combine with some natural talent and determination, and that’s the making and display of Jessica Klemm's senior art exhibition, "Nature's Aesthetics.”

From March 1–27, Klemm’s art was displayed in Cordier Auditorium, with works ranging from the written word to blown-glass figures. "I can't pick a medium," Klemm said. Her vision of nature was expressed through charcoal sketches and graphite drawings, collages and photographs, paintings and even digital graphic design.

"That was made out of National Geographic catalogues and some rubber cement," Klemm said as she gestured to her collage “Fox in a Daisy Field,” which had been exhibited in the 2015 Renaissance at Roanoke show and the 2016 Honeywell Art Show. Off to the side was a collaboration between her poem “Imitation” and her piece “Covered Sidewalks,” a black and white image of a tree-lined street with the sun filtering through the branches just right, which has been entered in the 2014 Honeywell Photography exhibit. "I took this picture in Savannah, Georgia," Klemm said. "Then I wrote ‘Imitations’ afterwards to go along with it." 

In the center of her show was a glass case filled with pendants and necklaces, and a miniature forest scene filled with tiny glass blown deer and elk, handmade by Klemm in her glass-blowing class. "I made the tree with my bare hands," she said, gesturing to the gnarled wire that sat overlooking the "herd" of deer. "And I made all the beads on it."

Elk make frequent appearances in Klemm's work, and are the leading figure in many of her pieces. "I starting hunting in the sixth grade,” she said. “My dad introduced it to me as a way to bond with him. From Junior year on, though, I got too busy to sit motionless in the cold for hours. Deer for me is remembering that, those times with my dad." 

Now she weaves those times into her art. Klemm remembers getting interested in art at a young age in response to her sister's talent. "I got a little jealous growing up beside her,” she said. That good-natured sibling rivalry evolved into an art minor, and into a source of income.
Klemm's commissions can be spotted around campus. Her collage of books is displayed on the back wall on the main floor of Funderberg Library. "It took me 17 hours to make," Klemm said.

She's made multiple collages for the English department, and two for the economics department. The student graphic designer for MU, she's put together the VIA posters seen around campus, the MU softball team logo and the cover for ‘Spectrum,’ Manchester's literary and art magazine, of which she is co-editor and graphic designer. "Jessica is an amazingly multitalented young woman of deep verve and contagious passion," said Professor Beate Gilliar.

As an English major, Klemm's goal upon enrolling in Manchester was to become involved in book publishing. "I did an internship last summer to work as a literary agent for L. Perkins Agency and Riverdale Avenue Books," Klemm said. "If you look them up, their number-one selling genre is erotica and LGBTQ books, but luckily I didn't have to read any erotica!" she laughed. "I got to read science fiction and fantasy, which is what I want to go into." Klemm considers herself lucky to get to intern in the field she's most interested in.

Her artwork and versatility with graphic design, which she was introduced to in her first year at Manchester, is giving her options she hadn't expected in the publishing world. "I'm also considering becoming a book-cover designer,” Klemm said.

"As an art minor, an exhibition was optional for me," Klemm said. "Then I realized I was a credit short to graduate. Professor Oke helped me put this together, and along with the set up and tear down, and so on, this was a class for me." Klemm looked around at the pieces, which were to be taken down on the following day.

Senior art exhibits are mandatory to graduate as an art major at Manchester, and can be found throughout campus at various times in the year, displayed in Winger, Cordier Auditorium and in the Science Center.