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Meet Jesse Kahn

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jesse Kahn.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I’m an artist, designer, and professor, originally from North Carolina, but I’ve been in Boston for twenty years now.

I grew up the child of northerners in the south, a secular Jew surrounded by Protestants, gay in a straight world. These out of place experiences almost always inform my art. Politics and social awareness are also very much a part of my background and practice, though not always in an obvious way.

I went to undergrad at a small Quaker college in Indiana, then spent a year in Europe on a Watson fellowship meeting and interviewing artist of color, queer artists, and artist with AIDS. When my boyfriend (now husband) and I moved to East Boston from Chicago in 1998, I started my own design firm. Then, I started teaching design, went to grad school for an MFA in Visual Studies, and now spend most of my time teaching or in the studio.

Please tell us about your art.
I started out painting, because who doesn’t. But over the years, I’ve made pretty much every kind of art. These days my work is split into wildly abstracted small-scale sculpture and highly figurative drawing. But it all comes from the same place, a love of queerness, explicit acts of same-sex love, and an innate need to push boundaries of politeness, easy comfort, and what’s deemed appropriate. I am happiest at the intersection of private and public.

My background and twenty-plus years of experience in design play a big role in my art making. I design fonts, so I can produce exact lettering for text paintings. I work seamlessly between analog fiber and digital design. The idea comes first, the material second.

And it’s almost always pink or orange. I’m busy working on a word for the color that sits between them; so far it’s porange, but I’m open to suggestions.

We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
Go to talks and openings. Write that fan note to an artist you follow. Start or join a crit group. Share a studio space.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I typically show in smaller group exhibits, though there are also some solo shows here and there. People are always welcome to be in touch to come to the studio in East Boston.

I’m most active on Instagram, where I show work in progress as well as final pieces. If you enjoy seeing a piece develop, I’m pretty good about posting several images as I work.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jesse Kahn

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