Alumna artist hopes to inspire students with project ‘Letters of Sacrifice’

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Jen Hassin is a nationally renowned artist who uses the medium of rolling paper to create art about issues that are not commonly addressed. Her work is currently being featured at The Pentagon, in studios all around Austin and even being covered by the Huffington Post.

What were you involved in while you were at St.Edwards?

When I first got to St. Ed’s I was a biology student and then I switched my major over to art. But, things I was involved with as a student was HSVA — the Hilltoppers Student Veterans Association — as well as anything in the art department.

So what did you do right after you graduated?

I graduated in May 2012. After graduation I worked for a company called Rooster Teeth productions and then I got a grant from my art studio and I quit my job and ever since then — December 20, 2012 — I’ve been in my studio.

Do you think St. Eds prepared you enough for what you are doing now?

I definitely think so. I’ve had some success, which has been really nice as young artist. I’m still very much in communication and friends with my professors we meet and still talk about different ideas that I have. 

You’re back helping out with the Freshman Studies program this year. How did that come about?

I think its partly because of my relationships I’ve kept open with all of my professors here at St. Ed’s. My work is very much connected to making work about a subject that is difficult to talk about. So the prison system was just a perfect fit that I can make something with the freshmen student body.

I interviewed my cousin who just came out of prison and the thing that he said over and over again is that they kept using the word “target.” And then I talked to Bryan Stevenson and what he wrote in his book and it kind of goes into that idea of being targeted to go to prison. So we are going to make a target out of the paper.

 What changes do you hope that your work will make for students?

I think that for the creative students or even the students that aren’t creative it’s important. The materials matter because it’s paper made from prison uniforms and then even the amount of whatever we are doing. So to have things really mean something and matter that’s what I’m working with.

Letters of Sacrifice was my final project at St. Ed’s and a lot of people saw that as just another project. But if you put a lot of effort and love into it, then it could end up doing something good for you.

That piece, “Letters of Sacrifice” was successful for me and allowed me to be an artist. I’m hoping to inspire students to go into deeper thought about what they are making their work about.

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