Symbiosis Artist Talk

with Jessica Turtle

Date & Time:

Friday, November 8, 2019
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM


Department of Art History Gallery, O'Shaughnessy Educational Center Lobby

Join us for an artist talk by Jessica Turtle and an exhibition reception for Symbiosis.
Artist talk will begin at 7:00 PM.

Symbiosis invites you to explore the interactions of species, environments, organizations, research, and art. This exhibition features two Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) Arts collaborations, Pollinator Pathways and Mississippi River Experiences, with original artwork by Sarah Nelson and Jessica Turtle

SCP Arts at St. Thomas develops course-based collaborations with SCP partner organizations, students, and local artists. Through the interaction of research and art, SCP Arts collaborations seek to bring to life partner-identified goals that foster interconnected human and ecological well-being in the Twin Cities. 

Although I’ve sampled a great variety of mediums with fervor, I’ve happily taken root in the genre of narrative art for a few solid reasons. As an immensely shy person with an insatiable appetite to tell stories, I feel comfortable doing so with a brush. Narrative art provides an opportunity to share my perspective without using words, and when used thoughtfully, images can ignite robust discussions around otherwise divisive or complex issues.

What intrigues me is that most artwork represents something different depending on who is looking, and in turn, altering the story the artist sought to tell. Each viewer arrives at different conclusions regardless of the artist’s original intention. Verbal language offers a similar opportunity, but we tend to call that poor communication. When speaking, it’s important to be clear and precise. The same is not true with art.

Why Natural History? When I trace the path back to how I arrived at my current style it seemed to have begun alongside a growing interest in real food. The evolution was slow but over time how I looked at the natural world changed. Once I started to discover the vast and intimate relationships making up a healthy ecosystem, I was hooked.

That’s not to say an appreciation for nature wasn’t always there, it was, but I wasn’t an active participant. When I started really looking, I became increasingly aware of how all things are connected, interdependent, and purposefully designed. This inspired two things. The first, I took the privilege of design more seriously. The second, I became aware of the blunder in how I lived.

We were once a fairly average species of large mammals living off the land with little effect on it. But in recent millennia, our relationship with the natural world changed, almost as drastically as our perception of it. There are now more than seven billion people on this planet – drinking its water, eating plants and animals, and mining its raw materials to build and power our tools. These everyday activities might seem trivial from the perspective of any one individual but aggregated together, they promise to leave lasting imprints on the Earth. If we are to avoid making an even bigger mess of our only home, our lifestyles must change. Change is slow, but if every image I create helps promote the tiniest bit of curiosity toward the natural world, I’d consider that a success.


All programs offered by the University of St. Thomas shall be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. For details, call (651) 962-6315.