Jalen Jackson, an oil painter hailing from Durham, North Carolina, is making waves in the art world with his captivating and thought-provoking work. As the first HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) student in residence at the Artspace in downtown Raleigh, Jalen is breaking barriers and using his art to challenge stereotypes and uplift his community.
For Jalen, the opportunity to be in residency holds great significance. It provides him with a dedicated space to explore new ideas and be part of a vibrant artistic community. Being chosen for this residency based on his graduation from an HBCU, North Carolina A&T, adds an extra layer of pride for Jalen. He sees it as a chance to represent his college in a positive light and defy any negative stigmas associated with HBCUs.
Born and raised in Durham, Jalen draws inspiration from his memories and experiences growing up, particularly his strong and resilient mother. She serves as his greatest muse and motivator, instilling in him a sense of gratitude and a desire to create artwork that tells relatable stories. Jalen’s paintings aim to evoke a sense of peace and nostalgia, allowing viewers to reflect on simpler times and appreciate the journey they have taken.
One of Jalen’s notable series centers around single mothers, aiming to challenge the negative narrative surrounding their ability to raise successful men. His artwork shines a positive light on mothers who have dedicated themselves to raising their children, defying societal expectations and stereotypes. Jalen’s piece titled “Reasons He Never Went to Sleep Hungry” tells the story of how his mother ensured he had food, clothing, and a secure environment, despite their challenging circumstances.
When asked about what he wants viewers to take away from his work, Jalen emphasizes the importance of appreciation and connection. He hopes his paintings serve as a catalyst for people to reach out to their loved ones and express gratitude for the role they played in their lives. By inspiring others to reflect on their personal stories and find solace in his art, Jalen aims to create a positive impact. Jalen Jackson’s art is substantial because it carries the power to inspire and uplift. By telling stories that resonate with others, he fosters a sense of connection and reminds viewers of their own strength and resilience. Jalen’s work serves as a testament to the profound impact that art can have in transforming lives and shaping communities.
As Jalen Jackson continues to grow as an artist, his dedication to telling stories and creating positive change shines through his artwork. Through his resilience and determination, he proves that art has the power to inspire, heal, and empower, making him a true force to be reckoned with in the art world.
SM: What do you want people to take from your work?
JJ: I try to go for nostalgia with my work, I want people to look back and reflect on a good time or a time where things were simple. A time when things weren’t so complicated. I know that may not be the same for everybody, but maybe at least one piece that I create, someone can relate to it and say “oh, wow, I remember that time.” I want people to see a piece of my work and call their parent or guardian and tell them they appreciate them.
SM: What’s a piece of advice you’d give to other young or up and coming artists?
JJ: Almost every artist I know, has been through a time where they struggle with believing in themselves and they struggle with confidence. They may have heard someone say something about their work or to them about their work. I say use it as motivation. Especially the negative. Find a way to make it positive, find a way to channel it and use it. Don’t give up, know your purpose, know what you want to do and what you want to create.
Photography by Sanjé James