Jessi Presley-Grusin is an artist and printmaker who specializes in letterpress and book arts. They received their BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2016, and in2019 completed their MFA in Print Media at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon.
Their current artist's statement follows:
“The work I make revolves around themes of longing and touch, and speaks to my struggle to both understand and celebrate my identity as a queer person living with chronic pain. I mainly use drawing and printmaking in order to express my ideas, but have come to appreciate many different modes of making and materials as being necessary to my practice. What connects these are my conceptual concerns, as well as my care and respect for everything that I touch.
“Unexplainable pain in my right shoulder had always been a mediating factor in my life, but in the last several years it became debilitating. Stabbing pain, tremors, and numbness in my right hand made its use not only impractical, but completely unsustainable. However in learning how to draw with my other hand, I have found a more authentic way of articulating my creativity.
“Being queer in our heteronormative society means being “othered,” being made abnormal and an outsider. Being chronically pained frequently does the same. The parallels I found between my queerness and my chronic pain made me realize that perhaps neither is meant to be fully resolved to a point where they don’t matter, and that these parts of oneself are always lived with, not overcome. Chronic pain is not merely a negative, and it can actually serve as a productive force in one’s life. I see an opportunity for community building in the sharing of pain, knowing that we all experience exclusion in some form and that this diversity might unify us better than any one social identifier ever could. By sharing my work, I am making alternatives more visible, and thus also more available to them. Being able to find reflections of oneself in this world is crucial to feeling valid as a person, and by adding my own representations into the mix, I am creating an opportunity for others to begin to see, much like I have, that they are not so alone.” Jessi Presley-Grusin (2019)