Recap of the FamilyHood ATL Art Show

It’s taken me a little while to post a blog about the art show, which was my first public showing of my art pieces. The day after the show, I woke up pretty sick. Apparently my brother had a cold the week before and passed it to me. With my compromised immune system, it took me twice as long to kick the plague and today was the first day I felt like doing any meaningful work. Ah, to be an artist. There’s always pain involved!

I was, to be quite honest, afraid to take my art into the public sphere. It’s almost a cliche but artists always say they put their souls into their work and that makes them feel really exposed when they show it. This was my first time going through that uncomfortable sensation of naked exposure before strangers but I don’t regret it. It was like ripping the Band-Aid off and now I know I can handle it. After the first twenty minutes or so, I began to let myself relax and go with the flow.

FamilyHood ATL Art Show, Jessica Jewett
A scene from the FamilyHood ATL art show that took place on June 30.

Atlanta’s art scene is not at all pretentious or snooty like people might expect in, say, New York or Los Angeles. The people I hooked up with, FamilyHood ATL, base their work on diversity with the Atlanta community and that is really important to me too. I was exposed to so many different artistic styles that I sucked up so much inspiration for my own style as well.

Speaking of style, I’ve been concerned for months that a.) I don’t have an identifiable style or meaningful voice, or b.) my faint style will be received as outdated and old-fashioned because other people don’t do what I do. The fear that I wasn’t cool enough to hook up with the Atlanta art scene was intense in the last week before the show. The thing is, I learned some valuable lessons based on watching people look at my art and formulate their opinions. My style is preserving history through the art of portraiture and it is okay because there aren’t many people in Atlanta doing that kind of thing. There are a lot of people doing awesome street art and pop art but that’s not me. People were welcoming of the fact that I’m different. I need to embrace the fact that my little corner of the art world is cool and accepted because I make history and portraiture cool and accepted for the people looking at my pieces. My fear of being different made me overlook the fact that I’m supposed to be different. Doing this show forced me to think harder about what kind of artist I am and that’s an important lesson.

Watch a video of the art show on my Instagram page.

It was interesting to watch people study my pieces before they got to me and read my bio. They were appreciating my pieces, studying them, discussing them, etc., before they even realized I was in a wheelchair. I can’t tell you how great that was for me. I’m used to people seeing the wheelchair first and then getting excited about the art because I do all of the work with the tools in my mouth. At this show, people were judging my art based on my skill, composition, subjects, and so forth. I ended up watching them like they were the exhibit. My confidence is much better now that I know I can stand on my own two feet as an artist without constantly thinking people like me just for the novelty of drawing with my mouth.

I would definitely say my participation with FamilyHood ATL was a huge success. I sold a few prints and I learned a lot about myself and how unifying artists can be when they embrace diversity.

So what’s next?

Well, I have a few opportunities in the works that will be amazing if they come to pass. One is a local opportunity and the other is a national opportunity. I don’t want to jinx myself by talking about them out loud yet. You’ll be the first to know when everything is solid.

As for my next pieces of art, I’m working on a collection. Nevertheless, she persisted. My goal is to do portraits of women throughout history from different cultures. The female experience is varied in different parts of the world but the one thing that unifies us is persistence. I want to capture that in historical portraits. If they get shown, they have to be shown as a collection in order to get the full impact of what I’m trying to communicate. I hope it goes over well!

She Persisted
She Persisted – Prismacolor colored pencil portrait of Jackie Wyers on heavy drawing paper.

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