Jes Reyes is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and arts administrator living and working in the Twin Cities. Her photography and video art have exhibited with Artists in Storefronts, Altered Esthetics, Feminist Video Quarterly, Made Here, and the Walker Art Center. Her mixed media visual art has exhibited at the The Show Gallery, MacRostie Art Center, Altered Esthetics, and the Hennepin County Library. Jes is the founder of the Altered Esthetics Film Festival and coordinates programming for Avivo ArtWorks (formerly Spectrum ArtWorks), a multifaceted art studio for artists living with mental illness. Jes also works as an Artist Career Consultant for Springboard for the Arts.
In 2005, Jes moved to the Twin Cities from Southern California, a year after graduating from California State University, Long Beach with a double major in Women’s Studies and Film and Electronic Arts. Jes now holds a Master of Liberal Studies degree (focusing in creative writing, feminist theory, and film studies) from the University of Minnesota, with a minor in Museum Studies (focusing in curatorial studies and community arts).
Since 2004, Jes has been building a significant career in community-based services, which art has often been part of. This work began while working in residential care as a child care worker in Westminster, California, supporting 7 to 14-year-old boys experiencing significant behavioral challenges. She also worked as a Women's Advocate from 2005-2008 with Women of Nations in their domestic violence shelter in St. Paul, Minnesota. She provided supportive counseling to women and children while also assisting with pet and art therapy services. Since 2008, Jes has been with Avivo (formerly RESOURCE) working in the organization's Community Support Programs. She first started as a Young Adult Outreach Worker, specifically supporting 18 to 26-year-olds living with serious and persistent mental illness, and eventually transitioning to full-time mental health case management, working with many adults challenged with court commitment. Jes is now the Coordinator of Avivo ArtWorks (formerly Spectrum ArtWorks), a multi-faceted art studio for artists living with mental illness. She facilitates the goals of the program through a community-focused and recovery-based approach. She plans, organizes, and executes ArtWorks annual group exhibitions, markets, and group/recreational activities while also working to uphold its mission to break down stigmas associated with mental illness. Although an artist at heart, she has proven to be a notable leader, curator, manager, advocate, and innovator.
I am an interdisciplinary artist producing diarist, lyrical, and somatic art. When I am photographing I am creating a narrative through series-based works. When I am creating moving image, I merge the visual form of cinema with literary forms like poetry and memoir. When painting, I am approaching emotion through the mind/body connection. Essentially, my work is connected to my intuitive approach.
I primarily explore the fragmentation of the past and how memories, experiences, and places take shape within our present realities, but I am also curious about the structures of bodies, whether human or comprised from nature. I look to explore what is underneath the skin or surface and aim to express the experience of bodily manifestations of emotions and the strength found in vulnerability. House of Vintage(2013), a photographic series, explores tchotchkes, the mélange of vintage stores, as well as my fascination and longing for the past. In Here, Mom (2014), a short video essay, I express my relationship with my mother by allowing the camera and the editing process to become an extension of my experience. Components (2015), a silent short video poem, layers the moving image with words, and explores how our bodies intersect the man-made and natural world. To speak to these two worlds, a poetic voice emerges and translates what the body feels and what the body says to its segmented existence. In Loss (2015), a short video, I follow the emotions and experiences behind the word and the experience of loss in grief. Beneath the Skin (2016) explores the ongoing tenderness I feel towards the death of my mother. A silent video poem, it gets to the heart of my grief by delving into how my deepest memories lay beneath my skin. My video diary series that I started in late 2016 offers a mixture of representational, somatic, and non-objective images. Each painting of mine explores moments in movement and stillness through its fluid and fused layers and expressive colorful elements.
Creating diarist art is a way for me to get the roots of a moment, feeling, or movement. I am often looking back at myself as a way to understand my artistic approach and the process of looking, feeling, and remembering, ultimately attempting to work out my particular inquiries trough self-reflexivity. It is a process that weaves images with subjectivity, tone, mood, and often breaks from physical reality. I like to flirt with dark and light images, too, because I am drawn to complexity and teasing the eye. I am intrigued by change and am interested in what happens in between.