When an image in her artwork makes a healing connection for someone, then Jodi Reeb-Myers knows she has done her work. “I think that is the most fulfilling thing I could have ever hoped for,” she said.
If you’ve been to a local clinic or hospital, you’ve probably seen her work. “The work I do is very symbolic,” Reeb-Myers said. “I believe that art can minimize the effects of illness, using metaphors for healing.”
Reeb-Myers hears this kind story often: The dragonfly symbol in one of her house prints helped make a four-generation connection for a woman who was visiting her daughter and new grandchild’s hospital room. The woman had always associated dragonflies with her own mother who had recently died. “Wow, Jodi, I can’t even tell you,” started the email that Reeb-Myers received about how meaningful her artwork was, making connections.
Spending time in hospitals and looking at dreary artwork was something Reeb-Myers has plenty of experience with. Her mother had breast cancer. “She got it when I was 4 and then it recurred when I was 18,” she said. “We were always sitting in hospitals and the art was always faded. This made an impression on me.”
The impression became a motivation for her. She thought it was sad that when one was trying to heal, much of the artwork in hospitals seemed like an afterthought.
While her talent for art appeared at a young age-she sold her drawings around her neighborhood at age 5 from her wagon (her “lemonade stand”)-Reeb-Myers’ parents thought that her desire to be an artist was just “crazy talk.” She grew up in Bismarck, N.D., with very practical parents who thought she should just get a job and earn a living.
She moved to Minneapolis in 1988, anxious for a different kind of life, but went to school to get a practical kind of degree-accounting. About three years into her coursework she began her work of fulfilling her humanities requirements by taking art classes. She “had those ‘what am I doing’ thoughts,” she said. Reeb-Myers transferred to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and found herself in the printmaking studio.
Her accounting background was helpful in the early 1990s and she found work in the finance department of a car dealership. “I would work [there] during the day and then I’d work until 3 in the morning at MCAD on my artwork,” Reeb-Myers said. She also met her husband and started a family at this time. “I was working so many hours. I knew something had to give.”
She made a shift to working as a receptionist for an art consulting firm, which opened new doors and connections for her. “I started showing them my artwork; then it just kind of exploded from there,” Reeb-Myers said. She became their in-house artist and had a studio in the gallery. “It was my grad school, such a huge learning experience,” she said, “with all the networking and just making work every day.”
“The work is all connected, like stepping stones,” Reeb-Myers said of her artist path. She works primarily with printmaking and painting, creating pictures and three-dimensional paintings. She carves woodblocks and uses found objects-“recycled things like bubble wrap or coffee sleeves, anything that has texture”-for printing and creating collages.
Her work is filled with symbols-doorways and windows, houses and keyholes, human figures and hands, leaves and seed pods, circles and spirals.
“I think of doorways and windows as thresholds,” Reeb-Myers said. “It’s sort of like turning a page, all of a sudden a possibility is available. I find that little space of a doorway interesting because it’s a choice. You can choose to stay in your home or get outside to know your neighborhood, your community.
Jodi Reeb-Myers’ studio is in Traffic Zone-a community of established artists who own the building cooperatively. They are hosting an open house on Saturday, Nov. 20, 5:30-9:30 p.m. 250-3rd Ave. N., Minneapolis. You’ll find Myers’ studio at #220. See more of Myers’ artwork at www.jodireebmyers.com