A Minnesota Artist's Contemporary Depiction of the Nativity

by Heidi Schauer

A child who had grown up in her own mother’s art gallery, Jessie DeCorsey had always wanted to be an artist. In January 2006, while attending the University of Minnesota—Duluth, where she later earned a B.F.A. in Fine Arts, she traveled to Greece and was greatly impacted by the country’s Christians and what she describes as a “living religious culture.” She returned home and dove into researching the earliest artwork in Christianity, with a focus on how it looked artistically to go from painting a pantheon of gods to painting One God. That led her to the study of religious iconography. Jessie soon undertook a minor in art history.

During the summer of that year, Jessie DeCorsey’s paintings of landscapes and flowers took a turn, and a woman who swore she would never paint figures found herself fascinated with depicting saints. DeCorsey came to feel that inserting contemporary figures into her faith-based works gave them a freshness that made them more accessible and relatable. The familiar figures from Biblical stories came alive in a new way.

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