Symbiosis Artist Talk

with local artist and Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) Artist-in-Residence, 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, local artist and Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) Artist-in-Residence, and an exhibition reception for Symbiosis.
Artist talk will begin at 7 PM.


Symbiosis, a collaborative exhibition between Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) Arts and the Department of Art History, invites you to explore the interactions of species, environments, community, research, and art. This exhibition features two SCP Arts project collaborations, Pollinator Pathways and Mississippi River Experiences, original artwork by Sarah Nelson and Jessica Turtle, and photography by Doreen Schroeder.

Learn about the Elm Tree Story Booth (look for it in front of the library November 4 -8 and step inside to share your story of the Mississippi River!) and its relationship with Society and Sustainability (ENVR 212) students’ research with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization and the Natural Heritage Project.


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.

SCP Arts at St. Thomas develops arts-based collaborations with SCP partner organizations, students, and local artists. Through the tranlsation of research into art, SCP Arts collaborations bring to life partner-identified goals that foster interconnected human and ecological well-being in the Twin Cities.  SCP Artists-in-Residence collaborate with students to translate their SCP project findings into artwork, which partners share in their communities and beyond.

Located in the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center at the University of St. Thomas, the Department of Art History Gallery is committed to providing an exhibition program that fosters dialogue centered around the issues of contemporary and historical art and architectural topics to encourage paths of inquiry and intercultural understanding to advance the common good.

To make an accessibility request, call Disability Resources at (651) 962-6315.