Larger Than Life Expressions

In this issue, our Conversation participants are Jessica Hammond and Olivia Lorenz. Each artist will respond to the same questions, providing you an opportunity to hear different perspectives and continue the conversation with your circle of friends.

Jessica Hammond is a local artist with a formal education in audio engineering and a passion for creating larger-than-life artwork. Jessica is involved in the Sioux City Alley Art Festival, has created several murals around town, and has an upcoming project at State Steel which you can watch the progress on Court and Virginia Streets. You can follow Jessica on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube by searching for “Brutal Doodles” or on her website

Olivia Lorenz is a 15-year-old local high school student and artist. Olivia’s goal is to create pieces to which others can relate and connect. Olivia is driven and, after graduation, aspires to attend the University of Iowa to become a surgeon or doctor. Olivia has the gift of expressing her artistic ideas into works of art for others to enjoy. Olivia recently completed a mural in the Woodbury County Juvenile Detention Center. 

Siouxland Magazine (SM): The theme for this issue is Expressions. People share themselves through various forms of expression. Why have you chosen murals as your form of expression?

Jessica Hammond (JH): Even though my formal education is in audio engineering, I’ve always had a passion for all forms of art. I got started with murals at the 2019 Alley Arts Festival when my friend Kitty Hart and I created our first mural. That was followed by one for SUX Pride, then Work & Church, and others since. I didn’t set out to do murals, but it’s like the perfect storm for the things I love, creating art, being outside, and doing challenging and rewarding work. Plus, I get paid for living my passion.

Olivia Lorenz (OL): Murals are a great form of artistic expression for various reasons, whether to show emotion, color, movement or make a statement. My goal was to create a lively and vivid space at Juvenile Detention Center for the kids to observe and interact with, opposed to sorrowful blank walls with no color. I saw this as an opportunity to change how these kids feel, allowing them to be seen and understood through art. Since they are my age, I can appreciate how isolating rooms can make one feel alone and upset. It can be difficult for them to handle the emotions they are going through with nothing to do but stare at walls in a small space. Creating a dedicated mural for these young people attempts to show them they are understood, no matter their choices.

SM: What other forms of expression do you use to share yourself with others?

OL: I use platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Etsy, which all make it easier to reach a wider audience and connect with others like me. I paint with various mediums, draw, and sculpt with the mindset of showing who I am and what I enjoy. It is an amazing thing knowing I can be myself and share what I am working on with the world. 

JH: I have many different forms of expression that I use, and they are very fluid for me. I was constantly drawing in school, but I also played guitar, wrote songs, and penned poetry. I like all forms of art, and I think each form of expression does something different for me. For instance, my art is very meditative for me. I use my poetry to help me sort out my feelings and emotions and sometimes incorporate my poetry into my music. I use my singing and guitar playing as an outlet for other emotions.  

SM: Where do you find inspiration for your murals?

JH: I find inspiration everywhere around me, including nature, space, and music. Often,, the client I am working with will have part of an idea but won’t know how to describe their vision. I take their idea then create a word web, listing thoughts that come to mind around their idea. After that, I will take a picture of the wall and use my iPad to draw up my vision to show the client, then make adjustments before I start on the actual piece.  

OL: The idea for my mural was to create a colorful and lively painting so I headed to Pinterest. I know ideas for art are common on this platform, so all I had to do was find something my mind was heading toward before starting the painting. 

SM: What do you want your murals to express to those seeing them?

OL: I want the mural to express understanding, change, and opportunity. I want these kids to see this painting and see color and liveliness in situations they may believe deserve darkness. My main goal is for the ones encountering the mural to feel seen and understood, and to believe they still have a chance of a childhood filled with love and understanding. 

JH: My hope is that my murals will cause people to think. With the murals, they generally create a positive response because they are interesting for people to look at with the bright colors which tend to cheer people up. Each mural has a story to tell. I like to use a lot of symbolism. It is up to people to interpret what they see how they see it.

SM: Has anyone shared with you how your art has impacted on their life?

JH: I received a lot of positive feedback from my work at the Alley Art Festival, from both other artists and people who attended it. The entire Festival inspired various people in the Siouxland community, especially other artists who are now taking chances they otherwise wouldn’t have taken with their art. Sometimes it’s not just the art, it is the fact that I’m doing it and inspiring others to take on projects they have put off or to take a leap and pursue something they are passionate about in life.

OL: As a young artist, I haven’t had too many chances to express myself through art and haven’t had much time to expose others to my work. I’ve made pieces for family and friends, and they’ve always replied positively and encouragingly. I’ve taught others my understanding of aspects of art and they took that information and still use it today. It’s a very rewarding feeling to hear simple lessons have changed the way others see art for the better.

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