James W. Jennings: Artist & Educator

"You don’t have to be an 'artist' to be an artist. Your actions communicate who you are. When you look at my artwork, you’re looking at a form of communication. I want to communicate that invisible bond between us. In other words, I want to say, we all are one, its all about love, get over yourselves."

During your childhood, were there any experiences or creative impulses that propelled you into your career now?

I was always an artist. It’s one of those things where you can’t escape it. I was around master storytellers and dark tragic figures. My best friend, Timothy, was 3 or 4 years older than me, he showed me how to draw, but he was so much better than me. I never even considered myself as an artist, because he was so intuned with his gift. Imagine if you’re just starting to learn how to do something and someone else has mastered it and they’re trying to help you learn, you’re disgruntled at the fact that you may never be as good as that person. However, you take the time to learn and cultivate yourself. 

My grandmother was a master storyteller and I didn’t know this at all until she passed away. She had a gift. If there’s four of us in the room, she’ll be telling one story, but in the moment where it hits different for you or me, she’ll highlight that. Basically, telling one story, but giving each of you, your own story. I didn’t have the capacity to understand what that meant until she passed away and I started to put things together and be my own man in a sense.