LISA JENSCHKE

Born in Texas, escaped to college, made my way to Europe and then came back to the States.  


My teenage self had already written my autobiography by the time I was 14: I would write books, live on a ranch (in Texas), and adopt all the dogs from the local pound; I would be married with children by 26. Instead, I fell in love with science and languages, left Texas, spent years in Europe, and married a man who doesn’t even like dogs. Children arrived, but not on schedule. I still don’t have a dog.

When we moved to Chicago in 2006, I left the professional life I had built, to help settle kids and figure out what I really wanted to be. It turns out that was an artist. I started pursuing art, and since then, I have been gobbling it up, trying everything from drawing to ceramics, painting, etching, lithography, screenprinting, and even a bit of performance. I have woven and embroidered, and podcasted. I have gotten stuck and shaken loose. I have organized artists groups and put together collaborative shows. I have pushed myself to grow as an artist, when it was still hard to own that title. It was in 2014, during the Center Program, that I felt a tectonic shift in my art, and it became personal, and in 2016 the personal became political. I don’t have a traditional MFA. I have years of pursuing media that spoke to me or that I felt I needed to make what I wanted to make. At the same time that I did Center Program, I also completed the Visual Arts Certificate Program through the Graham School.

Recently I got my 23 and Me results back and found out that I’m not 75% German as was passed down in family lore, but only 21%. The years I spent studying German, living in Germany, and working as a translator take on a new cast. I’m not what I thought I was, or what other people have told me I am. Strangely, that opens new doors. I don’t have to live in past expectations.