Staff Profiles: Jessica Thompson-Lee

Staff Profiles: Jessica Thompson-Lee

Around the Museum

Meet our Museum Educator of Youth & Family, Jessica Thompson-Lee!

Native to the Kansas City area, Jessica was born and raised in Overland Park, KS. She attended The University of Kansas where she received a BFA in Ceramics and Art History then going on to The University of Missouri-Kansas City where she received a Masters in Education. Before accepting her current position in September, 2016, Jessica has worked as an elementary art school teacher, taught classes at local studios and the Kansas City Art Institute, and has been a contracted teacher for the Kemper Museum since 2009.

As the Museum Educator for Youth and Families, Jessica works to develop and manage programs for Kansas City’s youth. Her position provides the unique opportunity to teach people of all ages the complexities of contemporary art and help them discover new ways to look at culture, identity, societal norms and values, materials, and technology. “I have the opportunity to act as a guide and inspire people of all generations to creatively reimagine solutions to today’s issues on a personal, local, and global level,” says Thompson-Lee.

A major initiative the education department is working toward developing is increasing programs for teens in the Kansas City area. Jessica hopes to create a Teen Advisory Council, which would bring area teens together to help develop the programs for their peers and patrons to challenge them to explore contemporary themes and see the world in new ways.

Not only does Jessica have a passion for art, but she is an artist herself. For the past few years she has been creating ceramic and mixed media wearable art; mainly earrings and necklaces which are inspired by organic forms. In her art, Jessica attempts to create a dialogue and relationship between people and the natural world.

When Jessica is not at Kemper Museum, she can be found at her studio or home, often working on her own art and experimenting with new materials. She calls this “meaningful play” which she believes helps her to grow not only as an artist but also as an educator. This “meaningful play” has also began to be used in Jessica’s love for cooking. She sees cooking as another art form, where she challenges herself with new ingredients and presentation while making something that is not only delicious but also beautiful.

“I have formed a strong connection to the community and realized that I as an educator needed to stay in Kansas City and actively help it to grow. My role at the Kemper Museum allows me to do this very thing. I am now part of an institution that plays a vital role in Kansas City’s education, and now more than ever by developing and managing programs that challenge young people to rethink the familiar and to push the limits of their creativity, I feel as though I can actually contribute to the city’s revitalization.”

This Staff Profile was created by communications intern, Addison Lietch.

A unique piece of jewelry tells a story. In the video link above, Artist Jessica Thompson-Lee takes us through her process of creating one-of-a-kind ceramic pieces. Jessica's mixed media sculptures and jewelry are created through the process of exploration in which organic forms are playfully arranged on varied surfaces to create simple yet elegant compositions.