“you can’t make art in the cracks”


Oh. Jessica Bell. She is one of the most lovely people you’ll ever meet, and someone that changed my outlook on my own artwork in one magical, caffeine/chocolate filled afternoon. She’s smart. And determined. And a self-taught artist who just finished her MFA. Yep, she has an undergrad in Art History, started making art on her own, got a teeny tiny studio space with a tarp instead of a roof {for real}, worked for years, applied for her MFA and then rocked it out. I was so excited to talk to her that, well, we just kept on talking! After we “hung up” I kept recording, so if you want to listen past the BEEP, please do. You can listen right underneath Jessica installing her thesis show, or you can subscribe on iTunes. First up, some of her mixed media work from a few years ago:


Ah. Paint, paper, tape, fabric, thread. And color. I absolutely love her sense of color. Now, as if finishing her MFA wasn’t momentous enough, she’s also just been nominated, for the second time, for the RBC Canadian Painting Prize {the winner gets $25,000 and their work in the RBC Collection… so yes, it’s a pretty big deal!} In 2013, as she was driving from Vancouver to Ottawa to start her MFA she had just been nominated, and two years later as she packed the moving truck to leave Ottawa and head back to Vancouver… you guessed it, she was nominated again! The two pieces are very different, yet you can absolutely see Jessica in both of them:


The winner {there are only 15 finalists} will be announced at the Contemporary Art Gallery of Vancouver on November 18, 2015. Good luck, Jessica… we’re cheering for you!

We talked a lot about her MFA experience. Turns out, quite a few of her final paintings were inflatable. Yes, I said inflatable:


I want to hug a painting! So, jumping back to the speed round, I purposely asked a question that would lead to this answer because I really wanted to show you the knitted wall hanging she made for me. I thought she was sending one of these smaller pieces {which would have been wonderful too}, but no, she sent me a huge, heavy, beautiful piece that gave her carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s hanging in my living room right now:


Love. So much. And with that, we finished things off. Jessica is exhausted after her MFA, so I suggested she take a nap for the winter. Look, she can do it on one of her inflatable paintings…


Shhhhhh. Thanks Jessica. And thanks to you… see you next week for another episode. xo


Other links mentioned: Sarah Gee Miller, Ben Skinner, Being Boss podcast, Heather Craig {Heather was the artist who told Jessica, “You can’t make art in the cracks.” That might be my new most favorite saying}, and Initial Gallery in Vancouver. ps. Conan… Jessica is waiting for your call.

comments (19)

  1. Sarah Gee Miller /// 10.31.2015 /// 5:26pm

    How wonderful to hear this conversation between friends, and to relive those great conversations! Jessica is such an incredible artist and original thinker – every time I hear what she has to say about the process of art making it ups my game just a little bit more.

  2. the jealous curator /// 11.01.2015 /// 7:36am

    yep, inflatable. so amazing!? and sarah… we missed you! we should have had you and some blueberry scones on there at the same time! miss you xo

  3. Abby /// 10.31.2015 /// 7:30pm

    Inflatable paintings! I’ve seen a lot of things, but that’s definitely a new one to me 🙂

  4. Rania Watts /// 11.01.2015 /// 11:37am

    this art for your ear episode is genuinely up there with my other favourites…. i swear i laughed and cried…. simply beautiful… <3

  5. the jealous curator /// 11.01.2015 /// 12:13pm

    aw, thanks rania : ) … i loved this one too (but i say that after every episode!)

  6. Cecile /// 11.01.2015 /// 12:50pm

    Goodness I love every episode of this podcast…!

  7. Rendell /// 11.01.2015 /// 1:35pm

    I loved listening to this episode as I walked along the seawall, in Vancouver, this morning. You have the best conversations and it was so nice to hear the nuggets of wisdom from Jessica. I am so excited Jessica is back in town and I definitely plan to go see her exhibition at Initial and CAG is just across the street from me, so I plan on hitting that November 18ish

  8. Ssrah /// 11.01.2015 /// 3:46pm

    Miss you too! xo

  9. Mita Ungaro /// 11.01.2015 /// 11:57pm

    You must be a special person! Loved your website and artists immediately !!
    Would be happy to be able to get in touch with your! Would be proud to show you my work-
    I live in Italy…but not a problem! Please try to make it possible-
    Looking forward to seeing an answer-
    … Now I feel like I have been putting a message in the bottle , or a little seed in the ground
    And hopefully something happens-
    Have a great day!

  10. simone /// 11.02.2015 /// 7:29am

    Fantastic (as usual) makes me a little sad for myself. I want to be a successful artist too.I’m with you. Focus, focus, focus.

  11. the jealous curator /// 11.02.2015 /// 10:17am

    don’t be sad! focus and make a TON of work. you can do it!!!

  12. bernicky /// 11.03.2015 /// 2:51pm

    Wonderful podcast. “You can’t make art in the cracks” what a great sentiment. Thank you for a podcast which is a real change of pace from Freakonomics and Money Planet. 🙂 Subscribed and left a review. Looking forward to the next installment.

  13. the jealous curator /// 11.04.2015 /// 8:06pm

    oh! thank you so much!!! xo

  14. Lori /// 11.06.2015 /// 5:10am

    so beautiful!

  15. Pattern Pulp - Friday Quick Links! /// 11.06.2015 /// 2:01pm

    […] fan of Orly Genger’s striking installations via design*sponge 2. A chat with Jessica Bell via The Jealous Curator 3. Why not DIY your own dish set via A Beautiful Mess 4. Matty Roodt’s lovely sculptures via […]

  16. “organizing the fray” | Beholdamerica the blog /// 04.17.2016 /// 1:26am

    […] Jessica Bell […]

  17. Bambi Branchfield /// 07.30.2018 /// 4:08pm

    I just found this blog. And I have enjoyed every episode…but this one’s catchphrase made me wince.

    You absolutely can make art in the cracks. There are so many artists out there struggling to find time to art and absolutely don’t have the privilege to stop life as it is and focus on art.

    You find the cracks. You fill those cracks with art. You keep filling those cracks with art if that is the only time you have.

    Maybe you cannot make a living with the art you make in those cracks, but you can make life more beautiful and meaningful. Kintsugi the crap out of life until you can make your own pottery from scratch.

    I hate it when creatives get discouraged because they cannot devote “real time” and will never be “real artists”…and then they stop creating and stop truly experiencing the truest form of beauty and expression in the world, which is art.

  18. the jealous curator /// 07.30.2018 /// 9:13pm

    did you listen to the episode? it was advice jessica was given by an artist she admires, and it struck a chord with her at that moment in her life … doesn’t mean it needs to strike a chord with anyone else : ) just thought it was an important moment in the episode for jess, so i made it the title.

  19. Sandi Hester /// 10.10.2019 /// 7:20am

    What a GREAT episode!!!! Loved over minute of it!

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