Jesse Payne

Associate Professor


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  • MFA in Painting, Northern Illinois University 2003
  • BFA in Painting/Drawing, Indiana State University 2001


Jesse Payne is an American artist currently working and teaching in Doha, Qatar. Payne’s work uses rigorous craft to amplify his creative interests: what does it mean to understand an artist’s gaze, and what does it do to a culture to censor it? His subjects – whether dimensioned iterations of Leonardo’s grotesque faces, or the further obscurity of censored art – are rendered in a hyper-representationalist manner, interrogating viewers with these same questions.

Most recently, Payne’s research has explored cross-media processes, unifying the traditional modes of painting, drawing, and printmaking with newer media forms including photography and video. With this hybrid approach, the artist has worked on a variety of new bodies of work, including ’censored’, which deals directly with the artist’s current context in the Arab world: a place where only certain types of art may be displayed and celebrated, and only certain sociopolitical behaviors are permitted.

Payne’s experimentation with media has only enforced his belief in the creative values of risk and mistake. The artist extends this into his pedagogical work, teaching foundational skills and mentoring students to discover their identities as artists. He is a recipient of the Virginia Commonwealth University Distinguished Achievement in Teaching Award, and has had the fortune of also having taught at Savannah College of Art and Design, Northern Illinois University, and elsewhere. He is dedicated to the development of fine arts education, serving on the National Board of Foundation in Art: Theory & Education (FATE), and acting as Vice President for International Development for Integrative Teaching International, a think-tank for education professionals. He presents regularly at conferences, discussing innovation and the contemporary landscape of design, art, and foundations pedagogy.

Research Interests

  • Ongoing research in contemporary trends in art and design foundations pedagogy.
  • Research in digital technology/tools and the influence of them on art education.
  • Ongoing research in the fields of painting, drawing and printmaking
  • Investigating new media and hybrid approaches to art making
  • The role of art in design and vice versa.

Teaching Experience

  • Assistant Professor, Art & Design Foundations Department, Virginia Commonwealth University, Doha, Qatar, August 2010 – Present
  • Professor of Foundations Studies, Savannah College of Art & Design, Savannah, Georgia, August 2006 – May 2010
  • Assistant ProfessorArt Department (Sabbatical Replacement), Kishwaukee College, Malta, Illinois, August 2005 – May 2006


  1. American Artist: Drawing edition, (Summer 2009) in an article entitled "Fleshing Out Leonardo's Grotesque Heads" by Bob Bahr.
  2. FACT Magazine: Qatar in an article entitled “Grotesque Inspired Art”
  3. The Foundation Magazine, Issue 38, February 2012 in an article entitled “Da Vinci Re-imagined”

Funded Research Projects and Grants

  • Faculty research grant,“Vermont Studio Center Residency”, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, 2015
  • Faculty research grant,“Tradigital”, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, 2014