Jess Myhre ’05
Jess Eliot Myhre ’05 is a professional touring musician with the band Bumper Jacksons. Their newest album, “I’ve Never Met a Stranger,” will be broadcast nationally on NPR’s Mountain Stage on May 5. The live performance will air on more than 200 NPR stations around the country, and the band will perform five original songs from the record.
The group originally began as duo—Jess Myhre (clarinet, vocals, washboard) and Chris Ousley (acoustic and electric guitar, vocals, banjo—crafting a sound inspired by the jazz clubs of New Orleans and southern Appalachian folk music festivals.
In the Delaware State News, the band discusses its growth from this duo in 2012 to its current configuration :
Eventually The Bumper Jacksons grew to its seven-member size after a few of the musicians casually dropped in on a few gigs with the duo.
“We were very loosely formed and it became almost modular depending who was available for different gigs. Guest musicians would join us for different songs,” Ms. Myhre said. These days, Ms. Myhre handles vocal duties, clarinet and washboard.
The Bumper Jacksons have a steadily rising list of honors: Washington Area Music Awards Artists of the Year, Best Folk Album, Best Folk Group for 2015; Strathmore Artists-in-Residence for 2015-2016; Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Touring Artists for 2016-2017 and others. They have also just signed with Opus 3 Artists (among greats such as Yo-Yo Ma, Roseanne Cash, Bela Fleck and Wynton Marsalis) for their national representation.
Sydney Lowe ’13
Film and TV producer Sydney Lowe ’13 is the founder of Art Girl Army (AGA), an organization that generates networking opportunities and fosters community among young women with creative careers. The collective originally started in Lowe’s small New York City apartment as a space for her and her friends to collaborate, provide support to one another and share their experiences as women working in creative fields, which largely lack gender, sexual and racial diversity. Since 2014 it has developed into an online global community of nearly 3,500 artists, including illustrators, comedians, dancers and more.
Lowe enjoyed ample opportunities to connect and collaborate with her peers as an undergraduate at Wesleyan. In an interview with Artsy, she explains how transitioning to the competitive environment of New York City made her miss being part of a supportive, creative community:
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Jess Chayes ’07
Brooklyn-based director Jess Chayes ’07 has recently won the Lucille Lortel Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW), which annually recognizes an aspiring woman in theatre who shows creative promise in the field. As a founding co-artistic director of The Assembly, a collective of multi-disciplinary performance artists, Chayes has co-created and directed eight original productions. These include I Will Look Forward To This Later and HOME/SICK, which is a NY Times Critics’ Pick.
Chayes founded The Assembly Theater Project with three other Wesleyan alumni: Stephen Aubrey ’06, Edward Bauer ’08, and Nick Benacerraf ’08. Together they created a collaborative and thriving community. Determined to show the effectiveness of solidarity and team effort, Chayes’ work is always risk-taking as well as thought provoking.
Recent directing includes Half Moon Bay (Lesser America), Primal Play (New Georges), The Bachelors (Williamstown Theater Festival), The Sister (Dutch Kills) and The Netflix Plays (Ars Nova). She has developed new work with The Vineyard Theatre, The Playwrights Center and New York Theatre Workshop, among others. Chayes is a NYTW Usual Suspect, a co-founder of The New Georges Jam artists’ lab, and alumna of The Civilians R&D Group and the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. She’s also worked as an associate director on Peter and the Starcatcher (Brooks Atkinson Theater and New World Stages) and Misery (Broadhurst Theater).