‘If I Could Fly I Would…’ (image courtesy of the artist)

Jessylan in studio

Jessalyn Aaland (Emeryville, CA) sees the potential for classroom space to function as liberatory space. Parallel to her work as a teacher-educator at SFMOMA, she makes artwork specifically for teachers to use in their classrooms. Jessalyn has defined an art practice as “a series of problems you’ve created for yourself to solve.”

At North Mountain, Jessalyn embarked on solving creative problems old and new. She planned the next volume of her project, Class Set, a free artist-designed set of posters for K-12 classrooms with an accompanying curriculum guide. She began an investigation of public education through sculpture. Then she detoured into collage, using old nature guides, school supply catalogues, and an abundance of stickers. With these materials she embarked on a process of selecting and cutting out images of simple classroom objects and graphic utopian ideas – the things that seem to represent the poetic possibilities within an ordinary K-12 education. The imagery of plants and flowers made their way into her compositions, inspired by her regular walks in the woods where she spent a lot of time intently looking at the ground. Her last two collages were more personal – she used them as a way to process leaving her teaching career behind five years ago. She parses the difference between her past and current work: “My sculptural and social practice work is research, planning, testing, and then implementing, whereas collage is intuitive. They reveal themselves to me.”

This October, Jessalyn will be an artist in residence at SÍM Residency in Reykjavik, Iceland, and during 2018-2019 is a fellow at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. In spring 2019, she will begin prototyping and fabricating her sculptures at Real Time & Space in Oakland, CA. Keep up with Jessalyn’s practice at jessalynaaland.com.