Artist Statement

I love technology, cities, and the modern world, but I grew up in stunning rural Vermont in a puritanical family of professors and craftspeople. This experience led me to pursue a career as a master printer and an art historian. Now as an artist, I explore how a variety of technologies, crafts and concepts shape our experience of the world. I am currently working with how abstract thinking is taught through gameplay. My ambition is to make the ideas I find most relevant interesting to a broad audience through my artwork.

The first craft I learned deeply was printmaking. I got hooked in high school and then travelled to Italy at the age of 18 and enrolled in a professional print training program at Il Bisonte. This allowed me to work at world class print publishers including Wingate Studios, Crown Point Press, Niels Borch Jensen’s in Denmark.

I went from being steeped in craft to Reed College where I was seduced by critical theory and conceptual art. There I made life long friends and became wedded to the life of the mind.

Under the mentorship of Mills College professor, photographer, and public artist Catherine Wagner I learned how my intellectual interests and respect for craft could be combined. With her I have learned how to elegantly realize smart, ambitious projects.

My most recent project, “Checker Brick House,” a permanent public art commission, has both the popular appeal and intellectual rigor to which I aspire. This project is a brick and mortar visualization of a checker game I recorded in Pittsburgh’s Deutschtown neighborhood where the sculpture was erected.  I chose to make Checker Brick House from a game played between two young brothers. Each layer of the sculpture represents a turn in their game. Through this project I was able to explore my conceptual interest in abstract thinking, which children learn through playing games like checkers, on an architectural scale using a craft: bricklaying, respected in the local community.

At Carnegie Mellon I am currently working on a film project exploring the game of Go, the Asian equivalent of Chess, using a seven-axis robot and 20,000 Legos. The film will intersperse video of a match between two Go protégé’s and the robotic fabrication of a visualization of their game. A voiceover will also expand this project into a semi-fictional realm describing how Go is capable of “reproducing the entire intellectual content of the universe.”

I am interested in continuing to develop my interedisciplinary practice through photographs, sculptures, exhibits, and research. Furthermore, I am looking to find a rich intellectual community where I can bring my multi-faceted interests to a broad audience.

Jesse Boardman Kauppila’s CV