Geneseo's Unexpected Artists: Kris Dreessen

Alongside developing pages of content for the Geneseo Scene, Geneseo’s alumni magazine, Manager of Editorial Services Kris Dreessen is a talented photojournalist. Just as she captures the stories of others in her writing, she captures life-affirming scenes on film. For the last 15 years, Dreessen has documented experiences from interesting and unheard-of places through her lens. For the past five years since starting at Geneseo, she has been working on an exhibition, “Life in remote places: a fragile balance,” based on life in El Sauce, Nicaragua and the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon.

According to Dreessen, the exhibit is about “life in remote communities—how families there work with and against nature for survival and what can be lost if they can’t find a balance.”

Dreessen said that her inspiration began when she stayed with a group of protesting colonists in the Brazilian Amazon, immediately loved their strength in the midst of powerlessness and decided to give them a voice through her work.

Dreessen added that she saw parallels in the strength of people in El Sauce.

“In the aftermath of civil war and economic downturn in El Sauce, residents are drawing on ways of life that haven’t changed in 100 years to build sustainable artisan enterprises, coffee production and eco-tourism,” she said.

A collection of Dreessen’s photographs is currently on display at Bodywork Kneaded Pop-up Gallery in Honeoye Falls, N.Y., where she was born and raised, to share the ways that the people of Nicaragua have pulled through in times of hardship.

Dreessen said she feels as though working in such different environments brings out the best in her.

“To me, every day is a bit of a struggle because I’m struggling to communicate with people and really understand their experiences, but at the same time, it’s really what drives me,” she said.

With her determination to share her experiences with the world and spread righteousness, Dreessen has started a grassroots project that helps residents in the commuities where she works to fund improvement projects such as scholarships.

“I believe our job in this short life is to explore and become who we truly are, despite fear and uncertainty, and to leave our corners of the world a little better, in however we discover is our way to do it: through music, writing or a friendly hand,” Dreessen said.u