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ֱ̲ inaugural Cultural Arts Fellowship recipient to exhibit work at June Art Crawl

Published May 31, 2024

Jenkins

MONROE, LA – In the 2023-2024 academic year, the ֱ̲ School of Visual and Performing Arts instituted a brand-new initiative to provide an artistic connection to their students and the arts community. The Cultural Arts Fellowship was created by Dr. Nicholas Bratcher, Director of the School of Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA), and serves as an initiative to place students from underrepresented ethnic groups and first-generation students into arts opportunities within the Monroe and West Monroe areas.

“One of my goals for the School of Visual and Performing Arts is to create and enhance curriculum and events that champion and celebrate diversity. Not only does this align with the strategic plan for ֱ̲, but that vision also includes stronger relationships with cultural arts organizations that will help provide social and economic value to the city by revitalizing neighborhoods, inspiring students, and generally improving the quality of life to our residents,” said Dr. Bratcher.

The inaugural recipient of the Cultural Arts Fellowship is Jansyn Jenkins, a junior double majoring in ceramics and psychology at ֱ̲. As a VAPA Cultural Arts Fellow, students are expected to contribute scholarship through creative works and extracurricular exhibitions/performances in city art spaces in partnership with a participating cultural arts organization. In Jansyn’s case, this would be a partnership with the Black Creative Circle of North Louisiana.

“While the ֱ̲ Cultural Arts Fellowship is new in its inception, it fits squarely with the intention and scope of the Black Creatives Circle of North Louisiana (BCCNL). Our desire was to act as an incubator and springboard for creatives in the area that are underserved and underrepresented. Being educators and arts professionals, we are acutely aware of how important this is. From our own experiences as undergraduates, we know that existing in virtually any arts program can be daunting, and difficult to find one’s footing. This is doubly so for artists of color,” said Rodrecas “Drek” Davis, director of visual and performing arts at Grambling State University and a member of the Black Creatives Circle.

For Jansyn Jenkins, the experience was one of confirmation. “The news about my selection as a Fellow came at a time of doubt, a time when I was unsure about the decision to become an art major. I had wondered if my efforts were truly worth the stress of numerous studio courses, so when I received the email about my selection, I became elated. Initially, I was nervous, but Professor Drek and Vitus Shell quickly assuaged any anxiety. Working alongside Prof. Davis and Prof. Shell has been a wonderful opportunity. Not solely because they are fantastic artists, but also because working with such accomplished artists helps to demystify the meaning of what it means to be a professional artist. I hope to continue the efforts of this fellowship by working alongside the BCC.” Jansyn was selected by a unanimous collective vote of the art faculty at ֱ̲.

“Jansyn is a person with clear vision, conscience and intentionality behind their work. There is a curiosity and playfulness that points to a sincere understanding of the possibility of art. The conversations that we have had have not only been illuminating for them, but for us as well. This experience has helped the Black Creatives Circle of North Louisiana develop a clearer vision for where we want to go, and how we might best amplify the voices of young creatives in the area,” said Professor Davis.

Jansyn’s work will be exhibited in the Sugar Gallery (131 Art Alley, Monroe) upstairs studio from June 2 through June 15, and there will be an artist talk at 6:30 p.m. during the June Art Crawl on June 6.