In Black America Podcast: African American Artist Janel Jefferson
On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with African American Artist Janel Jefferson. The Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s gave African American artists more freedom to paint in themes that they were more related to their personal experiences. You could literally experience the African American struggle through the artists’ work of this period. This was the height of the African American Art movement.
Jefferson’s larger than life portraits pay homage to the lost images of a remarkable people, successful African-Americans of the 1800s, and reflect on a time before this group was considered a subject of fine art. Through a mixed media of pastels, acrylic, dried foliage and collage, Jefferson references the combination of African, Western European and Native American bloodlines in her subjects’ features, skin tone and hair texture. The choice of clothing, names and social behavior draws attention to a desire for acceptance as successful entrepreneurs in this new society, causing a departure from native customs and traditions. However, the eyes remain haunting symbols of the depth of their collective experiences, giving these large-scale portraits an inescapable intimacy.