Jessica Hiemstra
Artist. Writer. Designer. Maker-of-things.

Vocabulary Lessons

Having spent much of her life on the road, Jessica has had to learn the vocabularies of other places and people to get by. In her collection of poems, The Holy Nothing, she writes about oranges and language. She says “I’ve eaten oranges in Botswana and Melbourne, in Freetown and Ottawa, Vancouver and Georgia. I’m not sure if I’m returning. I’m grateful for each orange. Where are you from? the neighbour asks and my bag of oranges hangs from my elbow. I don’t know. I’m here, I say.” Jessica feels like no matter where she is, there’s usually an orange. This set of drawings originally accompanied a series of poems she wrote in Botswana, where she spent four months with a friend who made baskets and was nursing a sick dog back to health. They talked about the dog, Jessica learned some Setswana, and how to make baskets with grass, and all the while she ate oranges with her friend while the dog slept.   

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