It’s playtime with Jessie and Katey. You’ll love these two artists if you want a happy place of bright, colorful, dimensional mural art.
Curving around corners and spilling out onto the ground, you get the feeling of three dimensions from their two-dimensional paintings. And we’re all about it.
Join us as we explore the inspiration behind Jessie and Katey’s unique artwork and where you can see it for yourself.
Let’s jump in!
The Story of Jessie and Katey
Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn are an artist team that creates large-scale public murals. The duo met at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2001. And they’ve had a beautiful artistic collaboration ever since.
Known as Jessie and Katey, the muralists are based out of Baltimore, MD. Their mission is to “transform public spaces into vibrant, playful experiences, and use a highly geometric, abstract language to engage with the history, architecture and culture of a place.” In fact, once you view some of their work, you’ll see they hit their mission every time.
As their recognition took off, collaborations grew. For example, they’ve created murals in partnership with cities, companies, and municipalities. Each piece is a unique story that turns the location into iconic artwork.
Where Do Jessie and Katey Find Inspiration?
Socially engaging and all-inclusive areas for the public are the driving force in Jessie and Katey’s art. They utilize the whole space, including ceilings, corners, and floors. Basically, if they can reach it, they’ll paint it. The artists love working with the elements that are already present in the environment.
They often base their designs on what they feel complements or enhances the area of a project. With research, they apply meaningful aesthetics related to the region. But the projects often change as they learn more.
Not just simple geometry, their work explores themes of movement and symmetry. In addition, Jessie and Katey love bold color combinations, patterns in nature, and woven textiles. In their own words, they “believe that the aesthetics of one’s environments can influence their emotions and state of mind.”
Their work is abstract. But if you shut out other distractions and really look at the artwork, you’ll see something planned and meaningful.
What Are Some of Jessie and Katey’s Favorite Mediums?
Jessie and Katey started with paint on walls, floors, and ceilings. But, their passion spilled into other mediums.
Texture and dimension are added when they include materials like recycled plastic or aluminum cans in their pieces. For example, they incorporated recycled cans and plastic as adornments for a Facebook headquarters mural.
In another piece, they added an optical illusion into windmill art for a bit of a twist. The spinning wheel looks like a swirling milkshake, only brightly colored. Jessie and Katey even added lights powered by the windmill.
The team also began exploring traditional batik, hand dyeing, and appliqué methods in their studio. This art form was then translated into large-scale paintings. For example, Waxing in the Honey Moon is a multi-blue-colored 175-foot sculpture made for Atmosphere, the Russian Street Art Biennial. It’s all hand-batiked, dyed, and stitched.
Samples of Jessie and Katey’s Art Pieces
In 2011, the duo began creating large-scale public murals around the country. Here are three examples showcasing some of their work.
In 2017, Jessie and Katey took on the Knoxville Steps staircase mural in Knoxville, TN. The pattern is based on Appalachian textiles but has a contemporary color palette.
From the air, a drone shot reveals just how involved the step mural is. From the ground, the effects are indeed dizzying. It’s a featured location on the popular Knoxville Scavenger Hunt.
Breaking away from architectural canvases, Jessie and Katey created the Laminae Wave for the “Incidental Monuments” exhibition at Baltimore’s Goucher College. The women made the piece from single-use plastic they’d been collecting for several years.
The colorful weave resembles a vast accordion fan stretched across an oversized loom. The meaning behind it is the duo’s reflection on consumerism. The irony lies in how quickly we throw things away while ignoring where they go.
Working through Seattle’s artSEA program, Jessie and Katey created the Liquid Sunshine walkway mural. Located at the Seattle Center, you’ll find the 350-foot design underneath the famous Space Needle.
Liquid Sunshine is, in fact, an appropriate name for this under-foot mural. Meandering like a river, the bold colors flow throughout the lengthy piece. This is indeed sunshine at your feet, even on a cloudy Seattle day.
Where Is Jessie and Katey’s Art Displayed?
If inclined, you can take a road trip to see some of Jessie and Katey’s art described above. Additionally, here’s one in-person display, as well as suggestions where you can view their art online.
Meow Wolf Las Vegas
AREA15 is an immersive experience mall in Las Vegas, NV, and home to the exhibition by Meow Wolf, Omega Mart. The duo created an unnamed piece on “the spine” of the Meow Wolf facade.
Jessie and Katey’s characteristic geometric shapes and primary colors are exceptional in this location. The women painted them using UV-reactive paint. “It doesn’t even look like paint,” says Unterhalter. “It almost has like this velvet texture to it.”
So stand back, turn on the black light, and get ready to trip out.
If you want to see more of their work but don’t have time to travel, Jessie and Katey have a solid online presence. Their Instagram page has nearly 40,000 followers, and they regularly post updates. Some of their reels even show them in action.
Additionally, many of their fantastic artistic collaborations are viewable on their website, jessieandkatey.com. You can scroll through all their transformational works back to when it all started in 2011. And if you want to add some of their art to your collection, they sell pieces on their site.
A Colorful Treat For the Eyes
Unterhalter and Truhn take mural art to a whole other level. Their work with architectural landscapes and historically relevant concepts brings so much meaning to the local community.
Jessie and Katey have just as much fun creating the murals as we do immersing ourselves in them. Bright, full of color, and chocked full of imagination, we can’t stop looking at their unique artwork.
What’s your favorite mural by Jessie and Katey? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Outside Folk Gallery
You can explore folk, street, and outsider art in our personal collection at Outside Folk Art. We’re celebrating these creatives and giving voice to rising black, Native, immigrant, and working mother artisans.
We’ll also be offering pop-up shows and collaborations with small museums, so be sure to follow us to discover the where and when!