Summer Arts: A different kind of energy

~ Reprinted from Campus News

For Jessica Robles, the studio is a second home. Her enthusiasm for the craft of printmaking is like an electric current that sparks her students’ creativity.

As course coordinator for the CSU Summer Arts “Printmaking and Installation: Out of the Matrix” course, Robles created a dream workshop that students could get excited about.

CSU Summer Arts is a systemwide program that focuses on supporting the artistic and academic needs of the campus and the community. Fresno State is the host campus for the program, starting in summer 2017 and continuing through 2021.

“There has not been a printmaking course for Summer Arts in quite some time,” Robles said. “I am honored to have the chance to bring it back and to bring it to the shop I currently work in.”

This is her first time being a course coordinator.

“The three artists I am bringing in are very well-respected printmakers whom other students and printmakers everywhere have their eyes on,” she said.

She wanted to get away from the traditional 2D aspect of printmaking and ask what else could be done.

“Incorporating sculpture and installation aspects into the course only expands the student’s view of what printmaking can become,” she said.

As a course coordinator, it is up to her to be in constant contact with the guest artists, organize assistants who will help out with the course, and make sure they have the supplies they need.

“I have learned so much from others who have previously coordinated a course and many have said that there is a different energy around Summer Arts,” she said. “The classes are filled with students who are focused, driven, and excited for this great opportunity to learn. That energy is contagious and makes for a wonderful experience.”

The biggest part is recruiting students by connecting on social media and traveling to other CSU campuses.

“I have been seeing such amazing talent come out of this shop for years under previous professors Aaron Coleman and Matthew Hopson-Walker,” she said. “There is a really strong history here, and I’m excited to share that with other students.”

She first taught a printmaking class at Fresno State back in 2013 and was asked back two years later. She has been at Fresno State for about two years now.

“I was born and raised in Visalia and attended College of the Sequoias,” she said. “It was there under the guidance of Richard Peterson that I was exposed to the wonderful world of printmaking, something that was previously foreign to me.”

She fell in love with printmaking and transferred to the Kansas City Art Institute where she earned a B.F.A. in printmaking in 2009. She then went on to earn her M.F.A. in printmaking from Northern Illinois University in 2012.

She was hired at College of the Sequoias a year after graduating and has been there since, in addition to Fresno State’s Department of Art and Design. She was also the COS Art Gallery director for three years.

“It has been a really wonderful experience being able to return to where I started out and pass on my knowledge to students,” she said.

Many students who sign up for a printmaking course have never heard of printmaking before.

“I love that I get to be the one who shows them these new processes and teaches them about the printmaking culture,” she said. “To be able to know how much work and effort goes into a print is everything! They find out that you are not just pushing a button on a machine that does the work for you. No, YOU are the machine!”

When she is not teaching, Robles is working in her studio. She is currently in the process of starting a new series of large graphite drawings and has a solo show of a watercolor series that opens in May at Provenance Gallery in San Antonio, Texas.

“I try to make my own work as much as possible and also do pet portraits on the side,” she said.

Robles has two rescue dogs, Frankie and Dottie.

“They keep my life interesting!” she said.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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