November 2015 Educators Showcase: Jesse Payne

Jesse Payne

Jesse Payne is an American artist currently working and teaching in Doha, Qatar. Payne’s work uses rigorous craft to amplify his creative interests: what does it mean to understand an artist’s gaze, and what does it do to a culture to censor it? His subjects – whether dimensioned iterations of Leonardo’s grotesque faces, or the further obscurity of censored art – are rendered in a hyper-representationalist manner, interrogating viewers with these same questions.

He is a recipient of the Virginia Commonwealth University Distinguished Achievement in Teaching Award, and has had the fortune of also having taught at Savannah College of Art and Design, Northern Illinois University, and elsewhere. He is dedicated to the development of fine arts education, having served on the National Board of Foundation in Art: Theory & Education (FATE), and currently acting as Vice President for International Development for Integrative Teaching International, a think-tank for education professionals. He presents regularly at conferences, discussing innovation and the contemporary landscape of art, and foundations pedagogy.


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During the past year, I have been contemplating the various types of digital drawing experiences that I could provide to my students. In my courses I have the flexibility to cover the entire gamut and touch upon both traditional and digital approaches to drawing in today’s world. Starting in a traditional manner using complementary media, we used tools such as Adboe Photoshop, Premier and the Wacom Inkling to translate our drawings into the digital realm.

My director Simone Muscolino and I co-developed and collaborated on the EYES project at the end of the Fall 2014 semester.  This project challenged the students to demonstrate many of the skills they had learned throughout the semester.  As Simone stated, “Inspired by an image of Charles Eames looking through the eyes of Pablo Picasso, this project invites the students to understand the importance of this process in art and design.”  The EYES project was created to provide an opportunity for the students to reflect on the creative process of artist and designers.  VCUQatar is a university that focuses on innovation and excellence.  Students are consistently being challenged to think critically about their work and the work of others.  We ask them to observe the world around them in an interesting way and be aware of a larger network of artist and designers working today.  Therefor, it is critical that they understand the views and thinking processes of both artists and designers.   For this reason, the EYES project was a perfect opportunity to create this dialogue and shed light on the similarities and differences of artists and designers.

Conceptually, the eyes represent ones identity.  To gaze into a females eyes in this culture is somewhat of a rare opportunity.  This project not only allows such an opportunity but also challenges the stereotypes about Arab females in general.  This project allows a privileged view to ponder on ones true identity while simultaneously challenging the viewer to understand how they view the world.

The project implements digital time-based media (Adobe Premeir), Adobe Photoshop and traditional drawing materials into one assignment.  The result is, I believe, a project that has a stronger impact on the viewer. 

Student Work