Greetings! My name is Jess. I founded Naeco Studio in 2018 while trying to figure out how to amalgamate my artistic practice with my passion for community.
Put most simply: Naeco Studio aims to intersect art therapy and community care.
I grew up in a small Ontario village, with virtually zero artistic influence. That didn’t stop me from being a creative critter. For as long as I can remember I’ve been mess-making. It wasn’t until I got through my first year of university in Guelph that I realized I’d been conducting some form of art therapy to express and heal.
The word “Naeco” is ocean, backwards. Coming up with a name for a business, before you know exactly which direction you’re sailing towards, is challenging to say the least. There is something about the ocean as a metaphor for creativity that feels right due to its ability to be both overwhelming and healing. The unpredictable curls of the water lapping into themselves says something about the healing process as well as the creative process. The ocean is a force of nature, as is our innate ability to create.
I’m an interdisciplinary conceptual artist. I work in many mediums, often starting with an idea before I know how it will come to fruition.
I graduated from the University of Guelph in 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts double-majoring in Studio Art and Philosophy. I’ve never been interested in the sort of art you find in dentist office waiting rooms. Being a practicing artist, for me, has more to do with the compulsion to make stuff than selling works. Most of my will for creativity comes out in wanting art-making to be accessible; enabling folks to access artistic methodology in a way that doesn’t require academic or elitist notions of masterpieces, but rather, utilizing art as a means of expression and healing.
I am currently enrolled at the Toronto Art Therapy Institute, working towards my certification as an Art Therapist & Psychoanalyst. (https://www.canadianarttherapy.org) But in the meantime, I am doing small-scale workshops that utilize art as a vehicle for healing, and I’m conducting arts-based projects focused on community care. That is what Naeco Studio is about. And because I believe in the powerful remedial capabilities of where art and psychology intersect; I am still a practicing artist, walking-the-walk alongside the people I support, making art myself.
As for my interest in philosophy; this made me passionate about ethics, the complexities of marginalizations, and fuels the fire in me to make everything I do for the well-being of oppressed and marginalized folks. Naeco Studio is run by a queer, neuro-divergent, mentally ill, physically-disabled, chronically-ill individual. So when I tell you that I prioritize and make space for marginalized needs, I mean it with my whole heart.
Throughout my life, therapeutic and mental-health services have let me down. Whether by their content not being intersectional or multifaceted enough, or by the systems themselves being inaccessible. I know I am not alone in this. Art therapy drew me in by virtue of its radical accessibility; the way it’s malleable enough to adjust to circumstances and individual needs. Though still based in empirical, tangible results, it acknowledges the subconscious, trauma, and even dreams.Talk-therapy isn’t effective for all. Creativity is a deep element of human nature, and one that every person can express in their own way.
Naeco Studio aims to intersect art therapy and community care. As I work towards my art therapist certification, I balance the teachings with my own involvements with boots-on-the-ground activism and love that doesn’t happen in strictly clinical settings. I am mapping out how to reconcile sliding-scale offerings in a way that enables me to offer art therapy to all, in different modes. You can read more about that under the “community care” page.
And so it is a journey. Thanks for joining me.
For a more specific, in-depth look at what Naeco Studio has done over the years, below is a non-exhaustive CV.
Naeco Studio // Jessica Wilson
• Bachelor of Arts Honours from the University of Guelph, double-major Studio Art and Philosophy, with honours (2022)
- Currently enrolled at the Toronto Art Therapy Institute
Galleries & Displays
•Juried Art Show (JAS), UoG, 2019
•Juried Art Show (JAS) UoG, 2020
•Juried Art Show (JAS) UoG, 2021
•Juried Art Show (JAS) UoG, 2022
•Over/Under Exposure, exhibit, 2019
Bereavement series, exhibited in conjunction with Photo IV contemporaries at UoG
•Manifold, exhibit, 2021
Paths of Least Resistance series, exhibited in conjunction with Specialized Studio contemporaries at UoG, collaboratively curated exhibition
•HOOP-LA, Necessary Arts, exhibit, 2021
Beautiful Basilica piece on display among 50 other local artists
•Alice Street Clubhouse TV, 2021-present
Video piece Yet So Far, made in collaboration with Emil White and Grant Darling, on public display after juried acceptance to the clubhouse TV
•Art in the Bullring, 2021
Displayed original work Panus Conchatus, a digitally manipulated photographic work, for juried and public viewing
•MFA Open Studios 2022, Specialized Studio Artist
Exhibited personal studio to showcase completed and in-progress work as a part of the Specialized Studio program at the University of Guelph, open to the public
•Threshold, exhibit, 2022
Installation of a domestic space to read, paired with an original poetry anthology titled Unfurl, exhibited and curated in conjunction with Specialized Studio contemporaries at the Boarding House Gallery in Guelph
•Give a Sh*t, JAYUxGuelph immersive arts festival, 2022
Exhibited original poem relevant to social justice themes festival portrayed
•Rotating art work at Cornerstone, 2022
Several pieces of art displayed for sale on a month-to-month basis at the Cornerstone restaurant in Guelph.
Funded Project Leading:
• Maplewoods Centre for Family Therapy and Child Psychology (2021-2022)
In collaboration with a team of employees at Maplewoods and Outlet Collective, led four mural developments from the planning process to execution. Researched art and therapy modalities, sought out funding, hired on undergraduate and community members to paint, guided workshops for muralists, provided documentation and advertising
Publications & Mentions
•WATsnew, Homer Watson House & Gallery, Fall 2019 magazine, volume 5, issue 4, pg. 2
Interview regarding time spent as a youth art instructor at the gallery
•Guelph Arts Council (GAC) article, 2022
“Bridging Worlds and Nurturing Connections: The Mural Project at the Maplewoods Centre for Family Therapy and Child Psychology” write-up on recipient(s) of the Youth Opportunities Award and corresponding mural project
•Guelph Mercury Tribune article, 2022
“Guelph Arts Council award goes to U of G mural project” write-up on Maplewoods mural project
•Kaleidoscope Magazine, CASU, 2019, Issue 18, page 16 & page 22
Two original poems published: Isles and Un-Title-Able
•Otherwise Studios, “People Doing Cool Things: Support Local, Shop Small”
Shoutout to local small businesses with arts-based offerings
•Vocamus Writers Community
Writer bio as a member of Vocamus Writers Community
•College of Arts “Grypholio”, 2021
Write-up on series Layers of Cannon made in collaboration with Katherine Topping
•Flora: Undergraduate Philosophy Journal Vol. 1 No. 1, published 2022
Published essay titled Beyond Deference: Standpoint Epistemology as Intersectional Intervention in a collaborative, annual, peer-reviewed philosophy journal hosted through the McLaughlin Library OJS platform
Unfurl, original poetry anthology, published 2022Self-published and available through Amazon or locally in Guelph at the Bookshelf. “Poetry anthology composed throughout 2020-2022. Oozing with vulgarity and vulnerability through abstractions of personal life. Unfurl is an unorthodox opening-up-of piquant expressions through emotive punches.”
•Zavitz Art Store, 2020
Showcased original works for sale at student-run art store
•Guelph Market, December Nights, 2021
Featured vendor at market, sold original works
•Introduction to Art as Therapy: Group Session (2019)
Naeco Studio facilitated introductory workshop at Otherwise Studio to introduce elements of art therapy
•Artistic Therapy at Home: Two-Week Online Program (2020)
Naeco Studio designed artistic daily prompts which participants received each day for a two-week period. This was a response to a lack of creative and mental health services available during the pandemic
• Enactus + Lang School of Business + MWMC (2020)
‘Movember’ Men’s Mental Health Stressbuster: Sustainable Paint Night, conducted research, organized, and led virtual workshop
•Central Student Association, UoG, Mental Health Monday (2020)
Naeco Studio led virtual workshop for undergraduate students to try artistic methods of honouring their mental health through circumstances of the pandemic
•“Write Your Heart Out” Take-Home Writing Therapy (2020)
Naeco Studio designed portable kits of writing therapy exercises for participants to complete from home
•“Activism By Artists”, free workshop to Guelph community members (2020)
Naeco Studio conducted one hour of artistic exercises with the group and two hours of productive discussion relating to artists offering their skills in a time of social need. Space was dedicated to sharing ideas on how to sustain advocacy efforts
•“No Resolutions; Reflections”, virtual workshop (2020)
Naeco Studio facilitated a virtual workshop of guided art and writing prompts to focus on self-compassion and reflections on the year previous
•10 Carden “Connecting Circles: Art as Therapy” (2021)
Naeco Studio led a virtual discussion of artistic therapy benefits and introduced exercises for folks to try at home. Space was prioritized for adults and seniors in the Guelph area experiencing isolation
•“Discovering Your Grief” workshop collaboration with Tash Gray (2021)
Naeco Studio collaboratively led a virtual workshop for those experiences grief that needed processing especially in a climate without proper funeral services. Art and text-based exercises were conducted to address various forms of grief
•Maplewoods Muralist Training and Collaboration Workshop (2022)
Naeco Studio, in collaboration with Alexa Collette and Maeve Hind, guided a workshop for muralists accepted on our behalf for the Maplewoods Mural Project. Workshop involved integrating various submissions into collaborative pieces, training on digital design software, and generating group expectations as a team
•Introduction to Art Therapy & Community Care Workshop / Information Session (2022)
At the Orangeville District Secondary School, presented an introduction to becoming an art therapist, accessing art therapy in the area, a synopsis of my journey to finding art therapy, and some introductory exercises on what one might expect in a clinical setting.
Conferences & Panels
•UoG Campus Open House (2018)
•Youth Climate Action conference, organized by Emily DeSousa (Seaside with Emily), Mike Schreiner (Green Party), and MWMC (2019)
•START Accessible Panel, through Student Accessibility Services, UoG (2018)
•Bachelor of Creative Arts Therapies Committee, student representative, School of Fine Art and Music department, UoG (2019-2022)
Certifications and Training
- Certified in Standard First Aid and CPR/AED, Level C, valid through 2022-06-17
- Childcare certified (2014)
- WHMIS, Smart Serve, and Worker Health and Safety certified
- Certified Elderly Caregiver through Warm Embrace Elder Care (WEEC)
- Qualified to instruct the Tiered Exercise Program for elderly and physically disabled individuals through WEEC
- Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) in Arts and Culture from the CDSB of Eastern Ontario (lighting and sound equipment maintenance certification, stage make-up, dance, and vocal training)
- Certified Peer Helper for students with physical and mental disabilities through UofG’s Student Experience
- Suicide prevention training through Living Works Education
- Anti-Oppression & Anti-Racism award in Principles of Belonging: course completed and badge received from the University of Guelph
- Sexual and Gender Based Violence Awareness Training completed and badge received from the University of Guelph
- Professional training in Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, Capture One, Sketch-up, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Excel
- Specialized training in film development, processing, darkroom printing, and scanning 35mm film, large and medium format, as well as photogram and cyanotype printing
- Specialized training on Epson print software for professional photography prints
- Trained vocalist 5+ years
- Trained on kiln safety and beginner pottery from Scott McNichol
Awards & Grants
• University of Guelph Entrance Scholarship (2017)
• Youth Opportunities Award, through Guelph Arts Council (2021)