Skip to Content

Jess Higman

2019 Arc Fellow

This vessel animal is one we can travel with—to institutions and outlying areas where the deepest aspects of our generative humanity can be celebrated visually.

Jesse Higman. Photo by Sunita Martini, 2019.

About the Artist

Jesse Higman is an artist, physically limited as a quadriplegic from a car accident in his teens. He writes, “As with mortality, we are defined by our boundaries, making me a particular fan of movement. While my disability it is not the subject of my art, limits have made me grateful and inspired my systems of painting, from working with gravity to the social collaborations enabling larger art. I appreciate the dynamic that disability imposes on relationship through tensions, awkwardness, and revelations to reconsider how we relate to and with other people, objects, the world and ourselves.” A fixture in the Seattle arts community, Higman began his creative career by painting imagery in the 1990s for Seattle’s rock bands. He received the Mayors Arts Award in 2009. His work has been presented by MTV, Lollapalooza, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Experience Music Project, The Smithsonian Museum, and Kennedy Center for the Performing arts.

Current Work

Jesse has developed an innovative painting technique he calls illuvium, after the geologic term for particles settling on flood plains. He works independently in his studio and collaboratively as a social practice by inviting strangers to pour paintings together. During the past decade, Jesse has taught himself to use Maya, a complex animation, dynamic simulation, polygonal modeling, and rendering software. Using this software, he has been animating plans to create a large-scale version of his mobile painting table, so more people can paint together at one time.