Someone You Should Know: Jennifer of OriJENNal Art and Founder of the Black Art Experience (B.A.E.)

Photo: OriJENNal Art

We've been gone for a minute, now we're back at the jump off with the "Someone You Should Know" interviews! Get to know Jennifer who is th creator of OriJENNAL Art and the founder of the Black Art Experience (B.A.E.) events. This Memphis, TN native has expanded her B.A.E. events to other cities and is creating the most unique art pieces. Read her interview below!

1. Introduce Yourself! 

My name is Jennifer. I was born (October 13, 1986) and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, but I currently reside in Memphis, Tennessee. I'm extremely extroverted, even though most artists are introverted. My world revolves around my son, Christian DeShawn (est. July 3, 2004), and I take pride in being an outstanding mother. He also loves art; however, he prefers using pencil for his medium, while I primarily use acrylic paint. I graduated from Shelby County High School in 2004 at the top 10% of my class with honors; defied the odds of teenage pregnancy and attended University of Kentucky, later graduating from the University of Louisville with my Bachelors degree.

I love God and believe that without Him, I would not be successful. He revealed my passion and natural talent of painting in the summer of 2015 after my ankle was fractured in three places making me immobile. While I was healing, I decided to teach myself how to paint and develop my craft. It was like art therapy: comforting to the bones and soothing to the soul. I've always known how to draw and sketch, but it wasn't until I picked up the paintbrush that I fell in love with creating masterpieces.

2. You have beautiful, vibrant paintings and I love the 3-D effect. What's the inspiration behind your art?

My art is internally driven, like a gateway to my soul. My creativity is inspired by my passions and emotions within me. For example, I love big, natural afrocentric hair and bright engaging colors, so most of my artwork displays the beauty of natural hair accompanied by a beautiful color scheme. I have also been inspired by the "Black Girl Magic" movement by creating phenomenal paintings that illustrate the universal awesomeness of black women by celebrating our beauty, power, dopeness, and resilience. I have recently started incorporating artificial flowers into my paintings because I absolutely love the beauty that flowers possess. However, due to have bad allergies, I can't enjoy real flowers, so I like to add their essence into my artwork creating a 3-D effect.

3. Why did you name your art brand "Orijennal Art"?

I asked my sister to help me come up with my creative brand name incorporating my name and originality. "Orijennal" is pronounced exactly like "Original" incorporating "Jenn" from my first name.

4. How do you utilize your artistry in helping your community?

I am in the process of starting a nonprofit inner-city art after-school program in Memphis, TN. I hope that it will grow to other cities in America.  The crime rate is relatively high among the youth in Memphis, which is partially due to lack of after-school activities or ways to keep their minds occupied with positive influences. Art is therapy to the mind and soul, which can resolve emotions of anxiety, anger, & sadness.  The youth will be able to express themselves & their creativity.

5. Who are some artists that inspire your artwork?

My favorite artists are Pierre Jean-Louis, Nicole Gibson (Nikkey Creative), and Brionya James.

6. What's your favorite piece that you've every created? (Explain why)

I have a few favorite paintings that I've created, but my FAVORITE painting would have to be my most recent painting entitled "Black Girl Magic" that was inspired by a photo I saw on Instagram. She has a flower in her mouth with elegant jewelry gracing her head, ears, and neck. I created small excerpt to express the meaning behind the painting & why she is my favorite: 
"Do not be silenced...
You're a diamond, sis...
They can not break you.
Speak life graced with your magic."

7. Tell us about your events B.A.E., also known as Black Art Experience. Why did you start it and how has it grown?

I noticed that black art doesn't receive as much exposure and publicity compared to other art genres. I couldn't find one local art event that solely showcased Black Art in Memphis. I'm not into cliques, so I invested in my vision alone with God leading the way.  In May 2016, I created the Black Art Experience (B.A.E.) to set the platform for black art and increase awareness for black artists in Memphis.

However, B.A.E. has now expanded to other cities due to the event's success. It takes one person to take a risk executing their vision, then others will follow. I never knew that I would be a vital piece of the puzzle to help promote fellow black artists & increase their art sales.

8. What would you say to people who feel like your event is excluding non Black artists?

I would tell them that there are plenty of events that promote non-black artists and to let us have our OWN avenue to get more publicity for our artwork. I feel like non-black always try to intrude in our spaces.

9. How does your background and identity as a Black woman artist connect within your craft?

All my paintings represent black girls and/or women in a positive light, displaying their "black girl magic" with vibrant colors. I want black women to love their melanin rich skin & natural hair without feeling like they need to conform to European standards of beauty.  Black women are the most unprotected individuals in America, so I want everyone to know that we are valuable & worthy of existence. I also create paintings displaying black love, which is so powerful & pure.

10. Where do you want to take your artistry and the B.A.E. events in the future?

Eventually, I want to do my art full-time and host the Black Art Experience (B.A.E.) at least once a month in different cities (still twice a year in Memphis).  I want to get all the groundwork completed for my after-school art program for inner city kids & open my own art studio.  I'm very ambitious, so there has never been a goal that I haven't obtained. Once I set a goal, I will not stop until I reach or surpass it.


Instagram: orijennal_art
Twitter: @orijennalart


Thanks for interviewing with us, Jennifer! Be sure to follow her on social media and support her work!


CONVERSATION

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