“I’m constantly exploring and pushing the boundaries between visual art and literary craft.”
Jennifer Chushcoff has been creating art and writing articles, poetry and children’s books—with a focus on nature—for more than 20 years.
Growing up in Southern California, she attended UC Berkeley, where she received her B.A. in art history. After her mother, grandmother and younger siblings moved to Gig Harbor 22 years ago, Jennifer would spend her holidays and vacations here, and after graduation, she decided to follow her family’s path and head north, relocating from the Bay Area to Washington.
After arriving in Washington, Jennifer trained as a master gardener through Washington State University’s Master Gardener program. It was this excellent training that helped her develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of Western Washington’s habitats.
“I’ve lived here for about 20 years. There have been many changes, but what remains the same are wonderful opportunities for exploring and hiking,” says Jennifer. “The Northwest is a gem. The environment recharges my batteries and brings me to life!”
The author of “WA is Water: An Intimate Portrait,” published in 2016, Jennifer spent two years researching and traveling the state, logging more than 3,700 miles in her car and an unknown number of miles hiking wooded paths and dusty fields. “Given the geological and climactic diversity of Washington, I saw as much as I could whilst visiting all four corners,” she says. “Though I could spend my entire life writing up these discoveries, there was a deadline, which was a very good thing!”
The inspiration behind the book was Jennifer’s fascination of the unique climate and geography of Washington state. The book was a way for her to celebrate water’s presence and impact. “When I think of water, I think of Washington,” she says. Backing for her to dedicate her time to bring the book to fruition came from a grant she received through the Tacoma Artists Initiative Program.
“The Puget Sound, also known as the Salish Sea, is a phenomenal landform filled with a stunning array of life. No other state is nearly cut in two by water. Yet, just over the Cascades, on the eastern portion, there is a magnificent, rich desert that requires the life-giving waters of rivers and underwater reservoirs. This irrigation helps supply the world with phenomenal wines, produce and grains,” she states.
Jennifer adds that the book is not a guidebook to the state but rather about celebrating and sharing the beautiful state of Washington through her lens.
“My goal is to share this fascinating corner of the world. I use a multi-disciplinary approach with most of my projects and thrive on drawing visual and literary art together. I’m always seeking out ways to connect the two. With this book, I combine poetry, photography and facts about the state based on the theme of water,” she says. “It is my deepest wish to share discoveries and create a connection with others.”
It is important to Jennifer to offer her time and experience to local organizations that emphasize conservation. She has served on boards and committees for both Gig Harbor and Tacoma literary arts organizations and is currently providing graphic design work for Creative Colloquy, a nonprofit that is based in Tacoma. “We have monthly gatherings with featured readers and host open mics, a yearly lit-crawl and publish South Sound writers, both online and in an annual print collection, she says.”
“WA is Water” is available at local bookstores during Jennifer’s readings and events. The book and e-book—which won an Independent Publishers gold medal in regional nonfiction—are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes year-round. Signed and personalized copies can be purchased through Jennifer’s website, ByJenn.com, and shipped to any location. If you would like to reach out to Jennifer directly, she welcomes your email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“One doesn’t need to travel far to explore new places,” Jennifer says. “There are discoveries to be made in one’s own backyard. If we are patient, and quiet long enough, they will reveal themselves.”
In addition to “WA is Water,” Jennifer has written a pop-up book called “Snowflakes”; collaborated on a letterpress print about snowflakes called “Tiny Treasures” with local artists Jessica Spring and Chandler O’Leary; and is currently editing a children’s book about Sylvia Earle, the first person to walk on the bottom of the sea.
“Water seems to keep calling me back,” smiles Jennifer.