I actually started out studying mathematics at Harvard,” she said as we spoke during a warm summer afternoon in her Williamsburg studio. “But I was kidding myself about how much I enjoyed math.” The daughter of a New York artist, she had continued her art interest at Harvard by taking classes along with her theoretical math classes.
While she struggled with her commitment to math, the gentle goading of an art professor helped her style improve immensely, and she quickly came to the realization that her enjoyment of the craft (and community of artists) was greater than that of mathematicians. “I saw how my art grew with the help of my professor, and then I looked around at the other art students in the class and realized that these were the people teaching me how to enjoy life. I needed something more than math. This was it.”
Jane moved to Williamsburg in 1986 where she became part of a burgeoning community of brilliant artists (including her husband, James Esber, whom she met three months after moving to the neighborhood). Jane aspires to a “generous” idea of painting. As she says, “my work is made to be interesting at all distances: far, middle and up close, inviting the viewer to spend a lot of time with each piece.
“Find what you’re good at it, and you will find happiness.”
But, that task is anything but simple. It can be years of fits and starts sprinkled with anger and depression that can lead even the strongest willed to retire to more mundane pursuits. But, we learned from Jane that it’s worth the arduous journey to find a true calling. Will we all be as lucky as Jane to find our calling early life? No. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to call off the dogs, or bring the search party back. Keep hunting, it’s there.