Studio Art Major Seeks to Inspire Through Inclusive Art [VIDEO]

Jess Hedum working on a sensory art painting.

Jessica Hedum, a senior Studio Art major from Cape May, NJ (Cape May County), aims to change the world and make an impact through her social justice work.

What inspired you to choose your major?
I have been interested in the arts all of my life. I was active in all art and music classes offered from elementary school to high school. In high school I fell completely in love with painting and I’ve never looked back. I knew I wanted to be an artist but deciding on what I wanted to do with my skills all depended on the education I chose to define my skills in college. I toured Westby Hall before transferring from community college, where I achieved my associate degree in studio art and when I walked in the painting studio, I knew it was meant to be my second home.

How does your field impact the world?
Artists are necessary in every way possible! Every visual depiction offered, design, creative outlet to explore is provided and created by an artist. I personally have a concentration in oil painting, specializing in murals and large-scale paintings. I see my art ranging from museum galleries to public spaces to bring peace, serenity and color to mundane topics and locations.

What impact would you like to have through your creations?
I would love to have an impact through my social justice work. Creating installations around topics that need to be a conversation and hopefully leading to some change of mind. My paintings themselves have 3D sensory elements to them, created for those that have mental illnesses or fall on the spectrum and find feeling a painting more soothing and connecting rather than just viewing a piece. I aim to create a body of work behind emotions and caring for others, overall, I feel that an art movement of sensory paintings can become huge and impactful.

Tell us about one club, organization or group of friends that make you feel like Rowan is home.
I dedicate myself growth and positive experience at Rowan to my Westby family that gave me a second home with open arms. The professors and faculty that check in on me and support my art to the fellow artists I work all night creating with. There is no better support system for artists than within Westby Hall.

Due to all the positive energy and kindness I have received in my time at Rowan University I have dedicated my learnings and passion to founding The Women of Westby. The Women of Westby is an art activist group that highlights women of history, tackles social justice issues through interactive installations and supports RU art students and alumni by showcasing and selling handmade work. Everything we do as a collective group is focused on supporting aspiring artists and speaking up for what is right. The Women of Westby is a movement created around acceptance and love of all. I hope for one day to see the movement grow towards being a staple at the university as a whole and giving the art department the recognition, it deserves.

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Story and video by:
Joshua Hedum, junior Radio/TV/Film major

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