Detroit Artist Tackles Tough Emotions in Her Work, Hopes to Teach Others to Do the Same

For nearly everyone, 2020 has been a year full of strife, including serious issues around the coronavirus pandemic, economic disparity, widespread protests around racial injustice as well as worries around the general election.

One creative mind — Detroit-based multimedia and Contemporary Artist Jessica DeMuro – is hoping that her work, as well as a new project she is doing, will help people find some hope, peace and respite in a chaotic world.

Friends and peers agree: DeMuro has never shied away from difficult subject matter and the proof is in her work.

She deals head-on with emotional and challenging themes. In 2016, she moved from Los Angles back home to Michigan to help care for her father when he was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. She explored what families experience in situations like this, in her body of work titled Mutiny.

“I often tackle subjects that pierce though the human experience,” DeMuro says. “These days, you feel like your hands are tied.”

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And coping with such emotional and physical stress is not easy. The experience differs for everyone, she said. From DeMuro’s perspective, the only way out is through. As an artist, she believes those things we want to hide from, the things we fear, will form the basis of the strongest works of art, she said. They connect us to one another and they can lead to healthier place.

“As an empathic and sensitive person, I deconstruct difficult concepts to understand and to reconstruct the narrative in my work,” DeMuro said. “It’s almost like method acting. I do a great deal of research that allows me to step into the experience. From there, something new, and even something cathartic, can emerge.”

Going through a challenging time – as so many of us are experiencing in our own ways today – allows us to grow. DeMuro doesn’t claim to understand it all, but she does know how to translate her own experiences into something that viewers can relate to and gain new perspective from. In this way, art provides a respite and an opportunity to become more empathetic and to care more about one another.

“It’s a lot less painful to face something than it is to carry that pain with you,” DeMuro says. “It’s like having a fear of the dark. Once you shine a light in the corner, you know what it is. It’s no longer scary. You know how to handle it.”

DeMuro is currently hosting a new Artist’s Critique Group at Women’s Work Gallery. There, she aims to foster an environment where rich conversations develop and deep examinations can be shared for art projects already in progress. All participants will have the opportunity to give and receive feedback.

“Critiques provide a space for artists to stretch, explore and fully realize art concepts through deep methodical discussions,” DeMuro said. “They allow us to speak about artwork more concisely and with more confidence.”

The program is meant to offer a low cost, accessible tool for those who participate. Women are welcome to register to take a class, or build off of the opportunity by participating in all four sessions.
The program will be available to a limited number of artists and held from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesdays in November.

Only six artists will be admitted for each session. Register early. Those interested can join in at any time, choosing from a single session to the entire four-session set. Sign up can be done here: