Artist, Teaching Artist
When your thumbs are in the mud, your mind is in the present moment.
Students/participants working in clay gain opportunities to build self-esteem, self-expression, and strengthen their problem-solving abilities. Being exposed to this creative process offers a platform for learning how to make decisions, but also how to make mistakes and ways to evaluate them. I believe the exploration of three-dimensional materials brings balance in our society driven by touch screens. Additionally, creating with clay helps keep alive a diminishing knowledge of how to bring something into existence with your own hands that is useful and beautiful instead of our typical approach of “click here to add to cart”.
Beyond ceramics as the medium, I aim to create a classroom climate through encouragement, laughter, conversation, and openness in order for students to feel free in their artistic expression.
My goal is to provide our community and schools access to high-quality ceramic arts programming, to offer opportunities to those needing a creative outlet who may not be attracted to two-dimensional arts, and help find ways for residency host sites to inject my methods into their curriculum/programming long term.
Pottery: Wheel-thrown and Hand-built
Ceramic Tile Murals and Installations
Stairways Behavioral Health
The Regional Cancer Center of Erie
Mercy Center for Women
The Sight Center of NWPA
Erie VA Medical Center
Bethesda Lutheran Services
Harborcreek Youth Services
House of Mercy Erie
Urban Erie Community Development Corporation
Dafmark Creative Arts @ JEHGA
Jessie Simmons is on the Teaching Artist Roster with Erie Arts & Culture and the PA Council of the Arts.
Jessie incorporates over 15 years of experience as a visual artist into her work as an educator, entrepreneur, and community builder. After earning a BFA in Ceramics from Alfred University School of Art and Design, she traveled to the Pacific Northwest to broaden her technical knowledge in multiple production pottery studios. In 2015, she returned to her hometown of Erie, PA to create and grow the ceramics department at BLOOM Collaborative, a community healing arts center. As the lead ceramic arts instructor here, her primary student body consisted of adults in mental health programs.
Currently, Jessie's efforts are dedicated to her art practice as a studio potter where she creates handmade functional and sculptural pieces. In 2021, ECRDA awarded her with the "StARTup Artist Entrepreneurial Grant" to assist in the growth of her art business.
She is a member of Chautauqua Area Potters, a group of professional ceramic artists who fires their artwork in wood-fueled kilns. She is also a regular participant in the annual Chautauqua Pottery Studio Tour.
In addition to ceramics, she has a background in natural building and received formal training at the North American School of Natural Building in Coquille, OR in 2014. Jessie has been invited to universities and community art centers to teach about the fundamentals and environmental benefits of building with natural resources. Her lessons include site-specific structures that spark community and revitalize vacant spaces, such as hand sculpted pizza ovens and gathering benches.