Originally from Dallas, Texas, Jessi is committed to facilitating and documenting creative expression through arts-based research and ethical practice structures. An artist, ethicist, and educator, Jessi approaches art-making to create dialogues through and with concepts that ignite social curiosity and civic responsibility. Drawing from her backgrounds in Expressive Therapy, Theatre and Dance, and Ethics, Jessi's multimodal artistic practice has brought her into collaboration with a wide range of creative enterprises including Harvard Dance Project, National Parks Service of Boston, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Harvard ArtLab, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, and The New Museum.
Jessi currently works as a Research-Practitioner with the Partnering Lab, an applied research initiative focused on investigating the roots of ethical physical interaction. Jessi uses her experience in dance and creative healing to investigate the relationship between ability and expression in creative practice. While she believes art heals on multiple levels, Jessi's research
focuses on the potential for harm and trauma in artistic processes. She currently works with Clinical Psychologist Dr. Miriam Rowan, conducting research that investigates the ethical underpinnings of clinical interventions in professional dance companies. Jessi also serves as Collaborative Artist and Dancer with Reciprocity Collaborative, where she designs and facilitates community engagement in site-specific performance and activation. Today she works collaboratively with East Coast practitioners including choreographer/researcher Dr. Ilya Vidrin, dancer/educator Jill Johnson, ethicist Dr. Kelsey Barry, social practice artist Kristin Barendregt-Ludwig, and interdisciplinary artist Sue Murad. Jessi is an emerging choreographer, engaging in interdisciplinary collaboration with musicians and visual artists. Her work weaves in her expertise in ethics and moral philosophy, considering how embodied practice can reflect & transform the norms of how we relate to ourselves, to one another, and to our work.
Jessi is currently enrolled as a graduate student studying Bioethics at Harvard Medical School. Her work in Bioethics is centered around arts communities. In her research, she asks: What is the role of bioethics in spaces with performance-specific ends? What are the roles, responsibilities, and virtues that are necessary to cultivate healthy, flourishing relationships in professional arts organizations? How might the ethical issues that arise in these spaces be uniquely situated within creative cultures? Jessi is committed to bringing Bioethics into professional dance and dance education spaces, utilizing existing frameworks to promote respect for autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice within dance communities.
Jessi is a proud alumna of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (BTWHSPVA) where she studied Theatre & Dramatic Arts. Here she received formal acting training in the Stansilavski system, Strasburg Method, and Meisner technique. From 2016 - 2017, Jessi studied Theatre & Performance at Emerson College. Her theatrical training includes rigorous performance education such as Advanced Acting, Directing, Costume Construction, Stage Combat, Movement, and Diction. She has studied under various teachers, including Karon Cogdill, Ruth Zapporah, Christie Vela, Charlton Gavitt, Cassie Tunick, and Erin Schwall. She has performed a wide range of works including Stephen Sondheim, Aristophanes, and Thornton Wilder. Along with her stage work, Jessi wrote/directed her own short, Queen Kevin, which was included in the La Vie Theaters Rising Star Film Festival in 2016. For this film, she worked under the mentorship of Italian Cinematographer Raoul Torresi.
Jessi went on to pursue an education in artistic healing. She received her B.S. in Expressive Art Therapy from Lesley University, studying under Expressive Therapists including Shaun McNiff, Nancy Jo Cardillo, Michelle Pate, and Andre Reusch. After graduating, Jessi received formal dance training in Latin/Ballroom, Contemporary Ballet, Modern Dance, and Countertechnique. She has danced works by Ilya Vidrin, Jill Johnson, Jim Viera, and Jamila Glass.
In addition to her performance career, Jessi is a visual artist specializing in acrylic painting and mixed media.