Jan Estep has an expanded creative practice that comprises critical writing, creative writing, and a range of visual media including sculpture, photography, video, and independent publishing. Trained as a philosopher — PhD, Washington University, St. Louis, 1993 — and an artist — MFA, University of Illinois, Chicago, 1997 — the relationship between thought and visual expression fuels a wide range of formal and conceptual investigations, particularly as this concerns the connection between art and language, thought and experience. She is concerned with the ways humans connect to social and natural environments through images and words and the way art serves the integration of mind and body, representation and direct experience.
Estep has had solo exhibitions at Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis; Art in General, New York; Brooks Barrow Gallery, Milwaukee; and Franklin Art Works, The Soap Factory, and Minneapolis Institute of Art, all in Minneapolis; and numerous national and international group shows. These include Dumbo Artist Space, and New York Arts Gallery, New York; Donald Young Gallery, and Bodybuilder and Sportsman Gallery, Chicago; Weisman Art Museum, The Soap Factory, and Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis; and Berliner Kunstprojekt, Germany; Atelier Top 25, Austria; Galerie Art & Essai & Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Rennes, France; Beijing Film Academy and Anji, China; and the National Library of Argentina, Buenos Aires.
Since 1998 Estep has written and published over 100 essays, interviews, art and book reviews about contemporary visual art. Her critical writing has appeared in the magazines Bomb, Afterall, Frieze, Modern Painters, InterReview, Rain Taxi, and New Art Examiner, and in exhibition catalogues by Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Hayward Gallery, London; Akira Ikeda Gallery, Japan; and Rochester Art Center, Minnesota. From 1997-2002, she was an editor of New Art Examiner, serving as senior editor from 2000-2002.
Her artist books and publications are available at Printed Matter, New York, where her illustrated map Searching for Ludwig Wittgenstein, Lake Eidsvatnet, Skjolden, Sogn, Norway is a best-seller. Her artist publications are also part of Kiosk: Modes of Multiplication, an archive of artists independent publishing housed at the Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Germany.
Estep has been awarded a McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship, a Jerome Foundation NY Artist Residency, a Jerome Foundation Travel and Research Grant, and a research commission from Breaking Ground, Ireland. In 2008-2009 Estep was the inaugural arts practitioner/writer fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center, a residential fellowship co-sponsored by Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts (SiCa). In December 2009 she was awarded an Arts Writers Grant for short form writing from Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation, with a follow-up grant in 2012.
Originally from West Virginia and for many years based in Chicago, the artist moved to Minneapolis in 2002, where she is the Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in Liberal Arts, Department of Art at the University of Minnesota.