Featured Sliders / HER Profile / Lifestyle / Stories / September 15, 2021

Lori Jobe: Capital Arts exec uses art to create safe space within community

Story by Nicole Roberts
Photos by Julie Smith

Lori Jobe was an anxious child and would doodle at her classroom desk to calm herself, but teachers often scolded her for drawing. When Jobe’s fourth-grade teacher caught her doodling in class one day, she attempted to hide her artwork and apologize, anticipating her teacher’s stern tone and punishment. Instead, Jobe’s teacher told her she was an artist and to never apologize for her passion.

“I probably grew 5 feet that day,” Jobe said. “It changed the lens that I saw myself through. He was the first teacher who let me be me, and when he said that, it was a light bulb. It flipped something inside of me.”

Jobe’s fourth-grade teacher created a ripple effect in the young artist’s life. Now Jobe hopes to have that same profound impact on other inspiring artists in the Mid-Missouri area.

Jobe has been the executive director of Capital Arts, 1203 Missouri Blvd. in Jefferson City, since May. As executive director, she is involved in planning and executing exhibitions; creating and managing classes; fostering local events and partnerships; establishing resources for artists; and more.

Jobe teaches art with the Jefferson City School District, first at Jefferson City High School and now at Capital City High School. She also teaches at Columbia College in the evenings. Prior to that, she taught at Blair Oaks Middle School in Wardsville.

Capital Arts Executive Director Lori Jobe works young students on a variety of projects, including straw knitting, chalk art and more during the Capital Arts summer camp.

New opportunities for local artists

Art has always been Jobe’s refuge, and that’s no surprise since her mother and grandmother are both artists. She regularly experiments with different mediums, whether it be oil painting, printmaking, photography or ceramics, to name a few. Right now, Jobe calls herself a ceramics artist, but if you ask her again in a couple of years, that identification will probably be different.

“That’s because I’m always looking for that perfect way to express or to tell the story,” she said.

Jobe wants artists to have opportunities to tell their stories. Capital Arts offers several outlets for local artists to display their artwork, whether that be through exhibitions, classes, partnerships or programs. 

Capital Arts is known for hosting several exhibits annually, including the gallery’s first digital arts exhibit earlier this year. The full exhibition schedule is available at capitalarts.org/exhibition-schedule. 

For artists who want to hone their skills, Capital Arts offers numerous classes — and there are more in the works, including those that utilize the new ceramics studio.

Capital Arts hopes to fundraise $5,000 to purchase equipment and materials for the new ceramics studio, currently set to open in September. Jobe hopes to have five pottery wheels, a kiln and clay artists can purchase. Artists can take classes to learn the basics of ceramics or stop in during open studio hours to create artwork using resources they normally wouldn’t have easy access to.

“There has not been a community place to come in and do ceramics,” Jobe said. “If you want to learn how to throw on the wheel or do hand building, you either have to take a class in college or find someone with a wheel at their house who can teach you. This is going to open the doors for artists.”

Capital Arts also offers classes involving sound immersion, jewelry making, macrame art, printmaking and watercolor art. The evolving list of classes is available at capitalarts.org/classes. 

While Capital Arts focuses on local artists, Jobe wants to use the nonprofit to show community members art can benefit everyone, even if they don’t identify as an artist. One example of that is a revived program that hits close to home for Jobe — the Art Heals program.

Capital Arts has offered this program previously, but Jobe hopes to revitalize it and add a new dimension to it. Jobe’s mother suffered a stroke and ultimately turned to clay to build mobility in her hands. That gave Jobe the idea to utilize the ceramics studio as part of the Art Heals program to provide physical and emotional support to community members — whether that be working with clay to build dexterity or painting in a conversational group setting. 

“(Art) breaks down barriers,” Jobe said. “It just opens those doors and makes those connections, which is the coolest thing to watch in any kind of class.”

Jobe also started the Community Art Exhibit program, where Capital Arts partners with Jefferson City businesses to display local artists’ works. A few Jefferson City businesses — like Gumbo Bottoms Ale House — are already participating in the program. Businesses interested in joining the program can contact Jobe at artsadmin@capitalarts.org.

“When we only have however many shows we have a year, that’s only going to show a tiny bit,” Jobe said. “But when you go to a place and see an exhibit that is all one artist, you get the real full picture.”

The hardest part of her job, Jobe said, is strategically and gradually implementing new programs — not offering everything simultaneously. Over the summer, she routinely worked 80 hours a week to learn more about Capital Arts and lay the foundation for new programs and classes.

But all of that hard work is worth it, Jobe said, since she helps artists and creates connections.

“The most important thing is that people feel like they have a place to belong, and it can be anybody — a little kid, an older person, someone who never did art, someone amazing at art,” she said. “It allows a place for everyone to fit in.”

Capital Arts Executive Director Lori Jobe works young students on a variety of projects, including straw knitting, chalk art and more during the Capital Arts summer camp.

Safe space for creativity

While her fourth-grade teacher was encouraging, Jobe remembers a college instructor who said she shouldn’t pursue a career in art, causing the young artist to lose confidence and feel like an outcast in the industry.

“No one should have an art teacher say that — that’s dream-crushing and horrible,” Jobe said. “I don’t ever want anybody else to hear that from another person.”

Capital Arts is a safe place for artists to showcase their creativity, she said. When artists show Jobe their work, she added, she feels like it is a privilege because there is a high level of trust that must transpire.

“I dreamed of being an artist, but I just wanted a place to belong,” she said. “I want that for people who show up here. We can do some cool art and that’s great, but really, the bottom line is that human connection.”

Jobe’s career path doesn’t look anything like the one she had envisioned in fourth grade. But she said she has learned being an artist encompasses much more.

“I’m not going to be a famous artist putting my stuff out in galleries and that’s not even the most important thing,” she said. “The most important thing is those connections and the people I meet.”

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Molly Morris

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