Jessica Simpkins

Clumps of milky-stemmed dandelions, decomposing banana peels laying in a weedy patch along the curb, and rainbow-studded white caps churned up by a howling east wind funneled through the Columbia River Gorge are a few of my favorite things.  Weather-beaten corrugated cardboard, remnants of thread and worn out clothing, gray skies, and bright colors. Precise measurements, history, and absurd realities. Stories that help me understand my foundation, my lineage, my identity, my place in the world.  Memories and meaning in smells, textures, colors and patterns, recipes, images, sounds and songs. I’m looking for ways to relate to others and our encompassing world within the isolation of social anxiety and depression.

I studied art and metalsmithing at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and the Oregon College of Art & Craft, where I earned a BFA in 2006.  My area of study was metal, including jewelry and sculpture. The last 12 years have been a struggle to rediscover value in myself and the creative work that I’ve always been compelled to make while paying off my student loans as a retail associate, a call-center employee, a medical research  volunteer, as a metal casting technician, and as a deckhand on a sightseeing boat in the Columbia Gorge.

While I worked on the boat I also took a job sewing and block printing for a one-woman (currently two women!) company, based out of  White Salmon, WA, called Recaps. Working on the boat, taking on tasks and challenges that I didn’t know I was capable of, with the faith and confidence of those around me, taught me that if I let go of my insecurities I can accomplish more for myself and others. Now I just have to remind myself of that every day. Every day!

If all of this makes it sound like I take myself seriously, oh my gosh, that’s not quite true!  There is usually a heart of absurdity in my work, too, due to my love of strange and low things. You’ll be able to find my jewelry, paintings, block printed cards, stickers, some small handmade books, and Recaps hats in the Arte Soleil Gift Shoppe. I plan on offering a class or two in 2019, as well!  If you have any interest in learning block printing or monoprinting or making metal sculpture using textile techniques like crochet, weaving, knitting, and sewing please stay tuned (and get in touch!).