Jessica Strahan

Artist + Jessica Strahan

Being born and raised in New Orleans has been an endless source of inspiration for me. The city's rich culture, distinct landmarks, and colorful (and tragic) history all shine through the worlds I create in my paintings. Known in the art world as "JHand," my work aims to capture all that makes my hometown special: the flavor, the essence, the jazz, the originality.

Drawing and painting have always brought me peace. My earliest creations were on the backs of worksheets, inside books. I was always drawing, on everything. As my artistic abilities became more apparent, I found support from family, friends, and teachers: my mom's friends gave me sketch pads; an elementary school teacher let me decorate the classroom and showcased my work to other faculty. I found creating to be liberating, and, thankfully, lifesaving: I had a crazy childhood. I lived with a lot of different people in a lot of different places, and I can't imagine what would have happened if I never picked up the brush.

My paintbrush strokes are also inspired by my children, the people I've met on my journey through life, and the mental, emotional, and spiritual space I'm in while creating. My latest pieces have been blue, a reflection on a lifetime of "living here and living there."

"House of Blues," my newest series, offers a fresh take on the juxtaposition of New Orleans and Africa. It features blue people with strong African features in distinctly New Orleans homes. In painstaking detail, the collection captures the beautiful and the tragic aspects — the sadness, joy, jazz, gentrification, etc. — of life in the Crescent City.

Having depicted countless scenes and characters, I have found that the greatest creative clarity is when I'm focused on myself. l painted many different topics growing up. But when I tapped into myself, and really went deep into my emotions through my work, I really felt free as an artist.

My work was the regional winner of the Bombay Sapphire Artist Series at Art Basel in Miami, it's been featured in Bennachin's African restaurant, I'm an artist vendor at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and my work has been featured in numerous gallery shows around the city.

 

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