Jessie Chernetsky

Photographer Jessie Chernetsky was born and raised in Salinas, California. She received her BA in Art, with an emphasis in photography, from the University of California at Santa Cruz. In 2009, she received the William Hyde Irwin and Susan Benteen Irwin Scholarship, the university art departmentʼs most prestigious award given by faculty-nomination only for excellence in creative work. Chernetskyʼs Portraits of Salinas, her series of street scenes from her hometown, was displayed at the National Steinbeck Center in 2013. Her photography has been featured in numerous galleries inCalifornia, New York, and Illinois. She currently lives and works in Santa Cruz, California.

Artist’s Statement

For a brief time as a child I saw a grief counselor, where I was introduced to different methods of creating artwork to remember and honor my grandpa, as well as many unique ways that other people memorialize those theyʼve lost. The ways in which others make their memories into visual artifacts was particularly interesting to me. The creation of altars using a lost loved one’s favorite foods and belongings; the collection, reproduction, and manipulation of old photographs; and the public display of emotions by those left behind have all inspired my artwork.

The losses that Iʼve experienced have presented me with the desire to create portraits of people without having their physical body present for the image. Instead I focus on, for example, the things people display around their home and hang on their fridge; the settings in which important moments in someone’s life have occurred; and the imagery on a card that someone sends to a sick or grieving friend.

While I derive inspiration for my photography from my own personal history, my work is at the intersection of personal and public. My photographs begin with me addressing some memory or feeling, though I choose to photograph public buildings, other people’s belongings, and human traces left in public to create my narratives.