As a queer Black femme woman, my personage has been debated, degraded, and exploited. In 2021, I began to address this generational and societal trauma through meditative art practices and adopted a praxis of reflectiveness in my art-making.
“An Apology to Her: Permanence, Hope, Resilience”, is a mixed media collage on a wood panel. This piece is inspired by my experiences with others viewing my body as an object, the disownership of my physical body, and the queering of myself as I have grown. It is a constant work in progress, as am I. It is an apology to the little girl who peeks through the ripped images, who looks toward her future self with a mix of apprehension, desperation, and hope.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Jamila Johnson is an artist administrator, art educator, and organizer. She graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts and is now pursuing a Master’s of Art Administration and Policy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
While originally trained in traditional illustration and relief printmaking, Jamila’s extracurricular experiences encouraged her to expand her art-making praxis. Through various styles including textile manipulation, digital illustration, and found material collage-making, she creates iconography that centers the stories of Black and Brown folks.
Her concepts fuse fantasy elements with their more somber real origins, some of which are inspired by her own experiences. This fusion allows the work to take on a sense of familiarity with the surreal, showcasing mundane or bleak stories with a twist of magical delight. She incorporates themes of queerness, connection, mental health, generational trauma, and the impact of these topics on a child. Her work evokes longing for an imaginary place; a sense of fernweh (or farsickness) for the chimerical. She has been featured in several Midwest galleries, and her work is owned by private collectors as well as part of the permanent collection at Iowa State University.
As an administrator, Jamila is concerned with the role of art and law in community building and development, and the impact of cultural policy on marginalized communities such as those with LGBTQ+ or BIPOC identities. Her future goals include establishing a non-profit organization specializing in arts education programming for QTBIPOC young adults and children, advocating for rural and urban arts funding on a national level, and displaying her artwork in major museums worldwide.
Jamila aims to build a national care network for QTBIPOC artists and administrators, based not only on art practices, but also on care, activism, and common understanding. She has already begun this work by connecting QTBIPOC fine and performing artists with supportive administrators and philanthropists in her own community.
© Jamila Johnson