Jesse Avina

Artist • Teaching • Media

Jesse Avina is a teaching artist living and working in Chicago. He works with photography, video, and sculpture to create pieces that deal with violence mediated through pop culture. He received his BFA from the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio, and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

An avid consumer of Hollywood’s culture of violence, Jesse finds himself becoming lost in a myriad of converging perceptions of the impact and significance of global conflicts, both past and present. In being addicted to Jean Baudrillard’s hyper-reality, the inability to discern fact from fiction, but simultaneously recognizing the simulacrum of all that Jesse digests, he seek to discover whether fantasy can be the best mode for examining our convoluted relationship to representations of war.

By crafting depictions of war via models, Jesse has become invested with authority over familiar scenes of destruction and carnage. As the creator, he is elevated beyond the status of mere consumer. By displaying these miniatures landscapes as either photographs or videos, Jesse adopts the role of producer, controlling output of the imagery and constructing the visuals of war in a mode similar to the media. However, unlike media conglomerates, these recontextualized scenes of conflict and violence are aware of their artificiality and register their existence in fantasy.

Examples of Jesse’s Urban Gateways programs:

Holding Chicago High: Mosaic-Making at Southside Occupational Academy