Kuria Jorissen is a full-time photographer who has been practicing astrophotography for almost a decade. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from the Art Institute of Seattle. Jorissen’s work includes adventure fugues, landscapes, travels, editorial and commercial photography.
Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? What mediums do you work with?
Jorissen: I’ve been a photographer and had a small disposable camera in my hand for as long as I can remember. Over the years my camera got better and I pointed my camera at the stars for astrophotography. Astrophotography is all about capturing the night sky, whether it’s landscapes with the stars overhead or deep nebula spaces, although I mainly focus on pairing the night sky with unique landscapes at across the United States. I grew up in a very artistic family. I have played with many artistic mediums, but my focus and passion has remained astrophotography.
Can you tell us about your artistic approach and how the different stages fit into it?
My artistic process can follow several different paths. When the night is clear, I choose a destination, go out and take some pictures while enjoying a night under the stars. Other times, like in my post: Blood Eclipse over Feathers, I use different apps to plan the shoot, research different options over a few days, and check that space objects like the Milky Way and the moon will be where I’m going. expect them to be. From there, I pack my bags and head to the set. For the Blood Eclipse shot, I photographed each stage of the lunar eclipse as it rose and set over a feature called the Feathers in Eastern Washington. This took a ton of planning as I had to check that the landscape wouldn’t be in the path of the eclipse. After the shot, I processed my images through Lightroom and did the finishing touches, like blending, in Photoshop. To clarify, I take two photos for my medium shots: one with my star tracker on so my stars are in focus and one with my star tracker off so my landscape is in focus. Then the two shots are blended to make sure everything is crisp and clean. In a way it’s similar to HDR, but I mix it by hand using my Wacom tablet.
Tell us where your inspiration for your art comes from.
Every day, I am inspired by the beauty of the night sky and the nature that surrounds us. Ever since I was little, I remember looking at the stars. When I learned to photograph the night sky, I realized that I had to reveal this beauty to everyone. Artists like Scott Kranz, Corey Rich and Art Wolfe have motivated me throughout my career and helped strengthen my art form. Not to mention other incredible artists like Tony Foster, Jody Bergsma and Jim Henson. All the stories, whether they come from a painter or a photographer, have inspired me to become an artist. The way these artists showed me their worlds and realities through their eyes was amazing. Now I can’t imagine doing anything in life other than being an artist.
Do you have a specific “rhythm” that you prefer – nature, food, profiles, etc. ?
My rhythm, by far, is nature. I love getting out into nature, camping, hiking, and most importantly, relaxing under the stars. Capturing the Milky Way and showing everyone the beauty of the wilderness brings me so much joy. Light pollution from cities often dominates the beauty of the night sky. By getting out and exploring, I can show people what it’s really like when you’re out under starry skies.
Do you have a work of art that means more to you or is extremely special to you?
The piece that means the most to me is my piece “Ocean of Stars”. It was August during the Perseid meteor shower. Incredibly, the skies along the Oregon coast were completely clear. And an amazing little phenomenon called bioluminescence was in full swing. I had researched bioluminescence many years before and had heard that you might see it that night. Naturally, since I was already on my way to Crater Lake, I spent a night at Cannon Beach to see if it would brighten me up with some electric blue waves. My mother and my fiancé had also joined me on this trip. As we walked toward the water, blue sparks radiated from our feet with every step. Soon we were all dancing and on the beach as the bioluminescence wafted from our feet. Capturing the brilliant waves along the Milky Way made my heart sing. Just as I captured it, there were two bright shooting stars shooting through my frame. Truly, it was a magical night under the stars. My favorite part of this image is the orange light on the horizon behind Haystack Rock. Most people think of it as a sunrise or sunset, but it’s actually a very well placed light boat. I hold this shot close to my heart as I have been chasing this phenomenon for a while, and was able to enjoy it with my family in one of my favorite places.
What experiences in your life have influenced your art the most?
When I was little, my brother and I helped my mother put up her works at art exhibitions. It was my first contact with the art world. Inspired by my mother, I knew I wanted to follow the path of an artist after high school. So when it came time to choose colleges, I didn’t even think of any other route. It was off to art school. While in college, I discovered astrophotography and jumped at the chance to make it my independent study. With the help of my college professor, Francis Zera, I turned this study into my college thesis. From there, I learned to defend national parks and the International Dark Sky Places program, set up to protect the earth and the dark sky.
If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
You can view my work on my website art.callofthemountainsphotography.com and on Instagram & Facebook @callofthemountainsART. You can also see my art in person at Gallery North in Edmonds. I’m currently the featured artist there. My art is also available at Shorelake Gallery in Lake Forest Park, Collective Visions Gallery in Bremerton, Bryant Corner Café in Seattle, and at numerous art shows and festivals throughout the year.
What’s next for you? Something you’re working on right now that you’re really passionate about?
I’m so glad you asked! My current project that I am working on is to learn archaeoastronomy. It is the study of native constellations and their stories behind the stars. Right now, I’m still in the research phase and I’m discovering and reading amazing books from the Navajo, Inuit, Hawaiian and Coast Salish tribes. This work originated when I was photographing the rise of Orion above Windows Arch in Arches National Park in 2020. Seeing it rise I started to think there must be a different name for Orion and a meaning/story for the constellation. It was very enlightening to research all the different ways stars tell stories and guide people around the world. My plan is to ask the tribes about their star stories and share those stories (with permission) along with photos of the native constellations in their homelands.
Finally, how do you drink your coffee? (We ask everyone!)
Actually, I don’t drink coffee. Often, at Starbucks or small local cafes, I order a chai tea latte or a London Fog. My absolute favorite is a little stand on Hwy 2 called Espresso Chalet. And I get a London Fog with eggnog, because they have eggnog all year round, and they rock overall.
About ‘Artist of the Week’: Seattle may be known for its niche cafes and scenic waterways, but locals know it’s also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is full of artists that we love to feature every week on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at [email protected] And if you’re wondering what constitutes art, that’s the beauty of it; It’s yours! Find all our former Artists of the week in our dedicated section.