UMSL Senior Lecturer in Art Jessi Cerutti

Jessi Cerutti, senior lecturer in art at UMSL, will teach a papermaking class this summer. (Photo by Myra Lopez)

Jessi Cerutti’s creative spark was lit early on. The senior lecturer in art at the University of Missouri­–St. Louis recently came across some drawings she made as a child. One piece foreshadowed her future vocations as a printmaker and papermaker. The young Cerutti had colored a picture with a red crayon and added a layer of green. Then, she scraped away portions of the top color to reveal the red underneath.

“My dad joked, ‘This was your dark phase,'” she said.

But more than it’s sullen appearance, the early work, according to the artist, reflects her lifelong obsession with order and process – a passion that’s useful in creating prints and paper.

Cerutti, of St. Louis, earned a bachelor’s degree in studio art at UMSL in 2005 and has returned to her alma mater to teach. This summer, she’ll offer UMSL students the opportunity to take Studio Art: Papermaking 3074.

“We’re going to be inside and outside a bunch,” Cerutti said. “We’re going to be making a big wet mess. The great thing about making paper is that you’re taking this sort of raw material and transforming it, which I think is really cool.”

Cerutti’s students will learn how to transform recycled and plant fibers into unique sheets of paper.

“Paper can be a surface to make art on, but it can also be the artwork itself,” she said. “I love the medium, because it’s really intuitive.”

Cerutti earned a master’s degree in printmaking at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2011, and her paper artwork has been shown in various exhibitions and galleries. One of her pieces, “10 Rivers, 1000 Years,” is made of handcrafted paper and takes up an entire room, with portions of the work spanning 30 feet.

She said many of her creations are delicate and storing them after an exhibit ends can be stressful. One such example hangs gingerly within a portfolio bag.

“I cringe every time I look at it,” Cerutti said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with it in the long run.”

Rock n Roll Craft Show

In 2005, Cerutti co-founded the Rock n Roll Craft Show, an independent, alternative art and craft fair. The annual event is held in November and features live music. The show has grown to include about 100 vendors.

Cerutti said the idea evolved from a regular poker night she held with friends. Some evenings they’d play cards, and other times they’d make arts and crafts.

“We started thinking about where we wanted to sell our stuff, and there wasn’t a venue that was appropriate,” she said. “The venue we wanted didn’t exist.”

So Cerutti and her friends created their own venue. Early versions of the Rock n Roll Craft Show were held in a parking lot adjacent to a store Cerutti’s mom owned. The event then moved to a gallery space. This year, the show will be held at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in St. Louis’ Midtown neighborhood.

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Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez