Tessa Wilson, an Ole Miss alumna, expresses her colorful and surrealistic personality with her palette and paintbrush.
“Ever since I can remember, art has always been a part of me,” said Wilson. “I do not know a life without art.”
Wilson graduated from Ole Miss in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and emphasis in graphic design. She lives in Dallas, but plans to move to Chicago to pursue product design for a technology company.
Regardless of where her career takes her, she will never stop practicing art and selling her paintings on the side. Her ultimate goal is to sell art as her full-time job, but she knows this process takes time.
“Being an artist is the most rewarding passion because I have the ability to express myself beyond words,” said Wilson.
She believes all art is unique in its own way, just like people. Wilson said her art is different because of the reflection each piece has through personal symbols and a colorful pallet.
Wilson said her most artistic quality is her anxiety.
“I know it sounds odd, but without that, I couldn’t think analytically about color placement and relative space,” she said. “It is bitter sweet.”
Each piece Wilson has painted is special to her in a different way. One of her most memorable pieces is her mixed media 5 x 4 piece of a poodle birthday party in the hall of mirrors Versailles.
“It is a very whimsical piece,” said Wilson. “I love poodles, and there is so much depth in this composition alongside a fun scene that makes you want to be inside the work dancing.”
Grayson Baird, an Ole Miss alumna and frequent customer, said her friend’s art is unique and personal.
“She consistently uses bright colors that make every piece exciting and gives viewers a sense of her bubbly and free-spirited personality,” she said. “Tessa’s art is whimsical and always a conversation starter. She has a way of making average mundane objects seem abstract and alluring.”
Although she loves being an artist, it can be challenging. While it is great to do what you love and are passionate about, there is much more to consider when choosing a career path.
Wilson said art is a risky career path. After graduating in May, she had to consider how she will pay off her student loans and make a living, but she was willing to take the risk.
“Tessa’s creativity and passion for what she does is inspiring,” Baird said. “It is obvious by her beautiful artwork that she puts her heart into every piece. Her art truly makes you see things in a different light.”
One of Wilson’s pieces was featured in Oxford’s Southside Art Gallery in May 2019. The featured piece is a still life utilizing multiple colorful washes of oil paint to create depth. It was a part of “Philip Jackson’s Painting Two Class Collection” exhibit.
“He was the best teacher, and I am so appreciative of all that I learned,” said Wilson. “It felt surreal being honored in Southside Art Gallery. I have walked by that place thousands of times since visiting my sister while I was still in high school. Little did I know my art would be displayed in that same gallery just a few years later.”
She said her time as a student in Oxford helped her grow as an artist. It always kept her busy. Whether she was creating art for school, her friends or herself, being a student and an artist gave her a strong work ethic. Her work has always been a representation of herself, so as she grew up and progressed as a person throughout her four years at Ole Miss, so did her artwork.