By Nella Letizia, WSU Libraries
Growing up in the family veterinary clinic, Washington State University alumna, faculty member and landscape architect Jena Jauchius became familiar with many species of animals — domestic, wildlife and exotics alike. Jauchius spent many hours at the Ponti Veterinary Clinic in Otis Orchards, Washington, working with and caring for the animals while forging a lifelong love for them. Those early experiences also inform the subjects of her paintings.
“From a youngster, it was evident to me that all creatures possess individual personalities, intellects, moods and ways of being,” Jauchius said. “This is an undercurrent of my artwork involving animals.”
Jauchius’ works will be on display through mid-December at the Animal Health Library in Wegner Hall 170, part of the twice-yearly “Art in the Library” program. An opening reception is planned for 4-6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21. Exhibits feature animal-themed works, typically from artists with a connection to the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine.
High school artist
Jauchius began painting as a high school senior. Her science teacher at the time encouraged her to paint a mural in the school’s science wing.
“That mural was my first painting, and I painted murals almost exclusively for 10 years,” she said. “I began canvas work around 2007. I work in acrylic, oil and spray paint. I love experimenting with different styles and expanding my skills.”
Two paintings that reflect Jauchius’ different styles are “Buffalo Joe” and “Junco: Shifting Seasons.” She has painted many bison, calling them “very expressive creatures, both powerful and vulnerable.
“For me, they seem burdened with the deep emotional history of how they’ve been treated by humans. It’s in their eyes,” she said.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are dark-eyed juncos, which Jauchius admires for their vivaciousness and self-importance when they show up at the bird feeder in winter, she said.
“I love visual contrast so the juncos, with their black heads and light brown/grey bodies, are really beautiful little things,” Jauchius said. “The background of the painting represents winter: snow and ice. And, the pops of color underscore the juncos’s perkiness in a dreary season.”
WSU and nature connections
Jauchius earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in landscape architecture from WSU in 2000 and 2004, respectively. As a landscape architect, she specializes in designing children’s play, learning and therapeutic environments, with a focus on designing supportive environments for children on the autism spectrum.
She is also an adjunct instructor with the Landscape Architecture Program in WSU’s School of Design and Construction. Most recently, Jauchius helped students work with the City of Pullman Parks and Recreation Department to develop a wetland mitigation interpretive garden.
“I have been practicing as a landscape architect over 18 years now,” she said. “Truth is, I don’t paint very many landscapes. I gravitate again and again to painting animals, and I have no doubt that it’s due to their constant presence in my childhood.”
One of her most powerful memories of growing up around animals occurred in her senior year of high school, when Jauchius helped a wildlife specialist rehabilitate a great horned owl for several months before releasing the bird on the Spokane River.
“We watched her circle us once and then disappear past the treetops,” she said. “What I remember most vividly is how I felt: almost bursting inside with a combination of emotions that I still find hard to describe. The nature connection is undeniable.”
•Nella Letizia, WSU Libraries, public relations/communication coordinator, 509‑335‑6744, email@example.com