We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Jones Jenkins and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Amy, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I am a product of FWISD and my path to an artistic career started immediately in kindergarten! Seriously, my art was selected to hang at the Fort Worth ISD Administration building way back in 1975. Honestly, I really remember wanting desperately to participate in Strings-the program where kids wore snazzy little red vests and learned to play violin, but my parents simply said they couldn’t afford a violin for me. Pencil and paper are affordable. From the realization that pencil and paper are affordable, and violins are expensive, I practiced drawing. My schoolteachers continually encouraged my art making, so for positive attention I kept making it! It didn’t hurt for me to see my father and uncle drawing magnificent art works, so I felt like I might’ve inherited the ability to recreate things I see.

Do you know about how doors swing open when something is meant to happen? Doors kept swinging open for visual arts, so it was a natural path for me. Between 5th and 6th grade my 5th grade art teacher, Betty Keller, recommended me to participate in a summer enrichment program through FWISD where I first learned blind contour and gestural drawing. It blew my mind to go on a field trip to the Ft Worth zoo through that program and create gestural drawings of very active monkeys. Next, I was ushered into Honors Art in 6th grade where Michelle Jernigan taught us linoleum printmaking, batik, and soft sculpture. I took art every year of school because I loved it and I got so much encouragement through my teachers and family.

Every year of high school at Carter-Riverside High School I was selected for an Ann Brannon Achievement Award in Art. My high school art teacher, Frank McCulley, helped me build a portfolio of artwork to be selected for an art scholarship to attend Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth. At Wesleyan, under the influence of Fort Worth artist, my mentor/friend Ron Tomlinson, I painted another art portfolio to get an MFA in Painting from Boston University on a full art scholarship. At Boston University I was encouraged by my painting professor, John Walker, to paint pig’s heads, sea rays, and goose eggs because I was working on still life paintings and loved Chaim Soutine’s paintings. John helped me be selected for a month-long residency at the Vermont Studio Center directly after grad school.

I have been making artwork and actively working as a visual artist my whole life. Educators have been so vital to my success to pursue and succeed at visual arts that I decided to give back in the same way everyone guided and encouraged me. Besides being an active DFW visual artist, I am also a visual arts educator for Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD at Boswell High School and Tarrant County College-Northwest. There I am encouraging my students to pursue visual arts careers by building art portfolios to apply to universities. I take my students on field trips to Fort Worth’s magnificent, world-class art museums, I assist in getting them into local art enrichment programs, and I write many letters of recommendation. I can effectively help the students grow because I am a practicing artist. I gain their trust and respect to guide them by sharing my art works and art career with them. My art students thoroughly enjoy hearing about my first solo show with Ro2 Gallery in Dallas, winning a New Normal Grant and having my work hang in downtown Fort Worth, and the all-time favorite is how I got a paperweight (on my desk at school) and a poster(on the wall at school) instead of winning $50,000. for the Hunting Art Prize. My students are my greatest art fans, I am theirs, and I show them a path.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work is often humorous and definitely entertaining for me to make. It is a thrill to hatch an idea and see it through to a finished artwork. For three years I have participated with art students in creating visual art responses to Inktober prompts. Each year, all 31 artworks follow a theme in teaching students to work in a series to develop a portfolio. The students enjoy my participation. I have mostly focused on drawing and painting, but then I got an Ipad, so now I play with the app Procreate. My art students love an animated-cartoon style and after KAWS and Takashi Murakami came to the Modern in Ft. Worth, I couldn’t help but catch a super flat-bug. It is so fun to draw in this way!

The challenges of life, working full time as an art teacher, and still making time for creating art is not an easy task. I was a single mom raising two children by myself for a decade. Determination, a fierce work ethic, and perseverance have gotten me through harsh times. No matter what, I am going to suit up and show up. A lot of self talk happens and having a fire in my belly to create is a gift I plan to not ever neglect. It has truly been a magnificent blessing to be a visual artist-and teaching has supported and inspires my art making. I have set up art merchandise for sale online now, I enter shows, I am looking into grants/opportunities. I make it happen. The most important element for success has been making the art in the studio.

Number 1 lesson I have learned is to make art for myself. It is not possible to please every person with what you create. It can be difficult to get in a spot where you are thinking about what you could make that would sell, or make gallerists or jurors pick you.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Favorite FtW Spots: The Fort Worth Stockyards are a must! Eat some authentic Mexican breakfast at Dos Molinas. Also, boot-scoot, country dance down at the stockyards and drink Rahr beer–just because this is Fort Worth…can you say Billy Bob’s? We would have to go get some Heim barbecue, eat some of Gus’s spicy fried chicken on Magnolia Street, eat a hamburger at Fred’s…the location near the museums is like a Texas 1970’s bar and burger joint. If my visitors are vegetarian we go to Spiral Diner. Of course, we go to the world-class Modern Art Museum of FtW, the Kimbell, the Amon Carter museum, and the Fort Worth Zoo is a must visit. We have to visit downtown sundance square and listen to music at the Scat Lounge.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout is dedicated to fellow DFW artist/educator, Kristina Brown, because she is an outstanding artist, educator, and art buddy. Also, to all the current and future artists from Boswell High School. This is a school where the rubber hits the road!

Website: http://www.amyjonesjenkins.com

Instagram: @amyjonesjenkins

Other: https://www.museema.com/amyjenkinsart https://7-amy-jenkins.pixels.com

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