General Description of Works

Jennie Kiessling’s small works defy standard expectations of presentation and access for the viewer. She relies on the fragility of taped cardboard, book pages, and ephemera from the early 1900s as a substrate. A symbolic language in the work references her ancestors and their continuous presence while at the same time recognizing the formal and spiritual histories of geometric abstraction.

Formalities of abstraction and the intimacies of being raised as an Italian American, seemingly separate entities, are inextricably woven within the existence of the artist’s work. Ultimately, this expression strikes a universal chord. Kiessling is one of many who have lived in and out of a culture of metaphor and mysticism while stumbling uncomfortably through life denying particular truths of that self. This denial is not deliberate; it is the result of layers of time that compartmentalize an original state of being that eventually oozes out of cracks in one’s daily life.

These gouache, graphite, and taped works are intimate in order to draw the viewer in. Reminiscent of the visual plane of a prayer book, dedicated to orphans, made by her Grandfather; tape has its own geometry that is necessary within the work. Abstraction is used as a portal for the viewer to find a neutral space through which to enter the work.    


My work is first about formal concerns related to history and theories of Abstraction. In particular, hard-edged, minimal, and geometric structures in both drawing and painting. In Contemporary Art the discourse around Abstraction includes a recognition that lived experience plays a role in what was thought to be “only” about form and devoid of any “real” content other than itself. Though the story was always part of Abstraction, this “new” discussion has broadened the possibilities for painting and drawing.

As a painter in the 21st Century, how do I make work that responds genuinely within this lineage, at the same time identifying a “new” truth? That answer rests in the approach and structure of my work; to expand “laws” of abstraction, examine past processes, and reflect the realities of my lived experience. This manifests in a subtle play with various languages that some may not understand.

Ad Reinhardt, Agnes Martin, and Ilya Bolotowsky are influences, as is my grandfather, Salvatore Carucci. For me, the small, intimate work that I make is necessary for a quiet discussion with a viewer. Taking the lid off of the personal to connect with the universal is necessary for producing work that identifies our time. What was is no longer. However, the essence of a collective experience, in time, continues to ripple through our lives. For some, experience is new – to me it may be very familiar; my work seeks to activate and open the heart of the viewer so that through our collective experience we attain individual moments of liberation.


Born and raised in Chicago, I arrived to live in the Western States in 2000; living in Wyoming, Colorado and finally, New Mexico which was my original intention after making my first trip to the Southwest in 1980. My work is in private collections, shown locally, and nationally, and has been published by Phaidon Press. I am a recipient of NEA and NEH grants. My graduate work was completed at the University of Chicago; my undergraduate work was completed at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).

I have taught for the Art Education Department of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Depts. of Colorado State University, the University of Wyoming, and Naropa University. I have served as Lead Faculty for Visual and Media Arts at Front Range Community College in Ft. Collins, Colorado as well as an adjunct faculty member. In addition, I served as the Assistant Director for the Division of Continuing Studies (SAIC), the Cultural Enrichment Manager for the Chicago Park District, the Communications Coordinator for the Wyoming Arts Council, and Assistant Director of the Hatton Gallery at Colorado State University.


Jennie Kiessling

MA, University of Chicago
BFA,  School of the Art Institute of Chicago


Santa Fe, New Mexico

Instagram @newpractice



2023    Concurrent Exhibitions: Abstraction/Our Ancestors/Altered Books and Painting

Laramie County Library and Clay Paper Scissors Gallery, Cheyenne, WY

2022       Holding the Edge, F O M A, Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM

2022       In the Garden, In the Distance, Loveland Museum, Loveland, CO

2018      When The Image Comes Into Your Mind After What It Is, Clara Hatton Gallery, University of Colorado, Fort Collins, CO 

2018       Same Mind, Esther & John Clay Fine Art Gallery, Laramie County Community College, WY.

2017       Jennie Kiessling: New Work, Artisan Framing Gallery, Fort Collins, CO.

2016       Meditations on the Inner Reaches of Outer Space w/Jennifer Davey, Artworks Loveland, CO.

2015       The View from There, The Hall Gallery, Artworks Loveland, Loveland CO.

2013       Know Place. Like Home, GVG Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM.

2012       Southwest Abstraction, GVG Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM.

2011       NeoWest: Two Voices, w/Cassidy Velazquez, Plaza Diane Center for the Arts, Powell, WY.

2011       Unspoken, w/Leah Harding, Western Wyoming College. Rock Springs, WY.

2011       Marrow, Naropa Unversity, Lincoln Gallery, Boulder, CO.

2009       Breath and Language,  w/Camellia El Antably, Valhall Arts, Ft. Collins, CO.

2008       So it’s come to this…..CoCOA Gallery, Ft. Collins, CO.

1992       Gonzalez/Kiessling: Beacon Street Gallery, Chicago. IL.

1992       Perspectives, McClean County Art Center, McClean County, IL

1991       Power Prostitutes Purity, w/Mario Gonzalez, Around the Coyote, Chicago. IL.

1991       Borders: Imaginary/Real, w/Mario Gonzalez, The Guild Complex, Chicago. IL.

1991       Jan Cicero Gallery, Chicago. IL.

1990        Public Poster Series II, various locations, Chicago. IL.

1989        American Bar Association Gallery, Chicago. IL.

1989        Public Posters Series I, various locations, Chicago. IL.

1988        The Limelight, Chicago. IL.

1987         Natalini Gallery, Chicago. IL.

Group Shows

2022         Artists Visage Artists, w/Jennifer Rife, Loveland Museum Gallery,  Loveland CO.

2021        On Edge, Edge Contemporary Art Gallery, Denver, CO.

2018         Drawn Thought, Western Wyoming College, Rock Springs, WY.

2016         Surface as Cipher, Curator Andrew Roberts Gray, Patton Mallot Gallery, Anderson Ranch. Snowmass, CO.

2016        A Contemplative Act, Community Creative Center, Fort Collins, CO.

2016        Mark Making, Firehouse Art Center, Longmont, CO.

2015         Line, White Cube Gallery, Naropa University, Nalanda Campus, Boulder, CO.

2015         Annual Contemporary Art Survery, Juror, Dean Sobel, Lincoln Center Gallery, Fort Collins,CO

2015         In Conversation, Artworks Loveland, Loveland, CO.

2014         Vivid Conversations, curator, Lili Francuz, Community Creative Center, Fort Collins, CO.

2014          Invention Re-Invention, GVG Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM.

2011           Half the Sky, Tall Grass Arts Association, Park Forest, IL.

2010          Contemporary Women, Chico Art Center, Chico, CA.

2009          The End of the 80’s, Evram Eisen Gallery,  Chicago. IL.

2009          Convergence, Front Range Community College, Fort Collins, CO.

2008          Rocky Mountain Biennial, FCMOA, Fort Collins, CO.

2007          Bucking Tradition & Culture, Center for the Arts, Jackson, WY.

2007          Desire, Dennis Small Cultural Center, CU, Boulder, CO.

2006          Image and Word, Windsor Library, Windsor, CO.

2003          Improv Gallery, Ft. Collins, CO.

2000          Hidden Treasures, The Humboldt Park Stables, Chicago. IL.

2000         What is Drawing Now? Weber State University, Ogden, UT.

2000          Midwest Winter, Center for Visual Arts, Wausau, WI.

1999           Winter International, Period Gallery, Omaha, NE.

1997           10th Annual Women’s Work, NAAC Gallery, Woodstock, IL.

1997          The Goddess on Division Street, The Guild Complex, Chicago.

1996           What U b About ? Malcolm X College, Chicago. IL.

1996           The Wild Women an Endangered Species, Pangea Gallery

1995           Ignite, Pangea Gallery, Chicago. IL.

1995           Corpus Mundi, Pangea Gallery, Chicago. IL.

1995           Acme Art Company, Columbus, OH.

1995           Mixed Blood, Beacon Street Gallery, Chicago. IL.

1990           Response to War, Artemisia Gallery, Chicago. IL.

1990           Perceptions of the Other, The Spertus Museum, Chicago.IL.

1989           Miami Expo’89, Miami, FL.

1989           Artists’ Against Homelessness, Guild Complex, Chicago. IL.

1988        Catart, Gallery 1370, Chicago. IL.

1988           Emerging Midwestern Artists, Contemporary Art Workshop, Chicago.IL.

1988           Chicago Artists’, Partners Gallery, Bethesda, MD.

1987           A Show for Young Collectors, Natalini Gallery, Chicago. IL.

1986           The House Show, Missouri Gallery, Chicago. IL.

1986            Artists’ Against Apartheid, Casa Aztlan, Chicago. IL.


2023,  Wyoming Tribune Eagle,

2022,  DARIA Art Magazine,

2021, Shoutout Colorado,

2020, Voyage Denver,

2019,  Studio Visit, Volume 34, pg .95, The Open Studio Press,

2018, Dikeou Collection ART-CO

2018,  Art strata: deposition and erosion as process and message

2018,   Drawn Thought

2017,  Jennie Kiessling, Drawn and Erased

2015,  Kiessling takes Minimalist Approach

2011, Unspoken,,2458

1995, Phiadon Press, Graphic Agitation, Social and Political Graphics since the Sixties


2023 Nominee, Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship 

2019 Ucross Foundation Residency

2012 NEH Landmarks in American History and Culture Grant

1998 NEA New Forms Regional Art Grant, Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago

Work in private collections

Served on numerous grant panels and for juried exhibitions


2014 - 2020, Artworks Loveland Center for Contemporary Art: Studio artist

2012 - 2014, Represented by GVG Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM.