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Jess Rocha - Director of Operations

Jess Rocha is Managing Director of the Elgin Fringe Festival, Committee member of Going Dutch, and the Director of Operations for Side Street Studio Arts. 11 Years in the dental field, 1 year in customer service, 2 years in e-commerce retail, and 6 years at Side Street Studio Arts. Jess earned a B.F.A in New Studio Practice from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD), as well as an A.S and A.F.A from Elgin Community College (ECC). At ECC, Jess discovered a passion for printmaking and screenprinting and would go on to focus her discipline at MIAD in that field. Following an eye surgery that at the time made it difficult to work on detailed projects, she switched to sculptural mediums and presented a large-scale sculptural installation as her senior thesis. Following her college education, Jess applied for the 2018 Artist in Residence program at SSSA. Upon entering the residency, she prepared for a solo exhibition, assisted education programs, ran Open Lab hours, started teaching Art, and learned about arts administration. In 2019 she became the lab manager, working on first friday programming, lab memberships, and open lab workshops. In 2020, she helped create MADE, the curated artist retail space, managing contracts, display, maintaining the physical and digital storefront, and more. In 2022, an assistant director, managing staff scheduling, interns, continuing to run MADE, and more. And at last, in 2023, the Director of Operations at Side Street Studio Arts, where she currently manages staff, oversees the Exhibitions Committee, Marketing Committee, Facility Coordinator, and Lab Manager, works with her fellow directors to plan programming, champion advocacy, handle administrative tasks, and more. Her current artistic practice is light-hearted paintings of cats, ink drawings of creatures, and the overwhelming sense of not doing enough, paired with the desire to not take herself too seriously. When she’s not working or creating art, Jess finds herself wandering the woods, visiting local conservation centers, attending museums, walking dogs, sleeping in, and playing with cats.


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