My name is Jazzmin Imani...
And through oil painting, sculpture, and digital illustration, I investigate how Black traditions inform Black futures in an American context. The actions depicted—twisting hair, Black men playing cards, Black women at a beauty supply store, Bomba dancing, and other instances of Black joy and triumph—prove to be as integral to emancipation as social movements or policy changes. Many Black experiences are uniquely rooted in ancestry, and I find art to be one of the few ways to expose these connections in accessible and authentic ways. Often, these actions which have been passed through generations serve as blueprints for contemporary Black peoples’ intimate experiences of their own culture.
Culture is not simply the things we do as a people or the way we speak and dress; it is also the shared experience of conflict and perseverance. This is what makes our culture full of body and flavor. It is the muddling of joy in the midst of struggle that has historically defined Blackness in America. I have the opportunity to translate that joy into mediums that have historically excluded Black people—children’s literature, portraiture, and more—all in an effort to increase accessibility to the arts and provide representation for other Black people.
If I helped my community feel seen through my artwork and inspired to find a love for art-making and change-making, then I did my job as an artist.