Engaging With and Learning From My Community - 10 Questions with Multimedia Designer, Animator, Illustrator, and Professor of Digital Media Marq Mervin
Marq Mervin is a multimedia designer, animator, illustrator, and Professor of Digital Media at Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ). Mervin's work and advocacy centers around providing marginalized and underrepresented groups with multiple points of access to education and professional development opportunities in the field of art and design. He is a member of Jacksonville's chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), a professional association for design. Mervin also serves on AIGA's national Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which is composed of 21 members from 16 different cities. Within this task force, Mervin chairs the Education and Community Committee. He and his fellow committee members explore partnerships with educational institutions and community and minority-based organizations interested in design education, diversity, and inclusion.
In 2016, Mervin led a TEDxFSCJ talk titled "Represent! Diversity and Equity in Arts Education." During this talk, Mervin recalled his own experiences as a young black men pursuing a degree in the arts and recounts how limited diversity amongst teaching faculty impacted his self confidence. It took Donivan Howard, a black animator with esteemed professional credits, to interview for a position at Jacksonville University for Mervin to see himself represented in his desired field of work. It was this representation that reinforced Mervin's belief that he could pursue a career as an artist and succeed.
I Want to Challenge Myself and Go as Big as the World Will Let Me - 10 Questions with Photographer and Curator Khalil Osborne
At only the age of 20, emerging photographer Khalil Osborne exhibits a high level of ambition. When he was 15, Osborne was given his first camera from a friend. It was a Sony Cyber Shot. He started taking pictures and posting them online through social media. Soon he became known by others in his school as the kid with the camera.
Aspiring for more than a retail or food industry job when he was a teenager, Osborne harnessed his passion for photography and in 2015 he secured a job at Cady Studios. With more than two years of professional experience behind him, Osborne works as a portrait photographer through the family owned school photography business. In his free time he continues with camera in hand, setting up shoots with his peers to add to his growing body of work as a visual artist.
Retro Futurism - 10 Questions with Graffiti/Contemporary Artist and Graphic Designer Mark "CENT" Ferreira
Mark "CENT" Ferreira is a graffiti/contemporary artist and graphic designer who lives and works in Jacksonville, Florida. His body of work has a strong orientation towards typography and geometric shapes, incorporating traditional graffiti letter forms and characters but often with a fresh take. CENT's color palette includes a signature teal that serves as a continuous thread woven throughout his portfolio of work. This signature color is reflective of the ’80s, but also feels evocative of Jacksonville. Working predominantly in aerosol, CENT's work exhibits influences of mid-century modern design and comic books.
CENT was born in Connecticut. As a child, his family traveled to Southwest Florida every summer to vacation. Eventually summers weren't enough for the family and they relocated to the Sunshine State in 1989. CENT's father built their family home in the Naples area. CENT remembers the area feeling too pristine and he often romanticized about living in a gritty metropolitan area.
Sara Nahid was born in Ahvav, Iran. Nahid was exposed to the arts at an early age and she recalls her mother providing her with a paint set when she was about 10 years old. After completing secondary education in Ahvaz, Nahid enrolled in the prestigious Tehran University of Art, Iran's largest art university. There, Nahid pursued her passion for art by studying painting and sculpture. While enrolled as a student, Nahid shared her passion with a younger generation by teaching painting and ceramics to pre-school children.
Unfortunately, Nahid's education only lasted two years. She unenrolled from university after her father-in-law was imprisoned in an Iranian jail, and later died. Fearing for their safety, she and her husband fled from Iran to Turkey. Once settled, Nahid worked in a restaurant but continued to paint, although obtaining supplies was difficult. She and her husband lived in Turkey for five years and it was during this time that she converted to the Bahá'í faith, a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people. Nahid, her husband, and their young son came to the United States in 2016.
Nahid both loves and is critical of her culture. Her work deals with her experiences as a woman in Iran and her transition to the US. Now living in Northeast Florida, she has a deep desire to move from a place of isolation into a community of belonging.
Location, Pose, and Lighting - 10 Questions with Hip-Hop Emcee and Action Figure Photographer Arsun F!st
D'Angelo Samuels was born into a Navy family in Panama, a country that bridges Costa Rica and Columbia. Samuels was introduced to comic books in 3rd grade after his father brought home issues that he read while on deployment. It was through these colorfully illustrated pages that Samuels learned how to read. He still remembers the first comic book that he read from cover to cover, Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars Volume 8, in which Spider-Man found the alien symbiote that gave him a black costume that would eventually become Venom and then later Carnage.
While attending middle school in Hawaii, Samuels delved deeper into his love of comics, evolving from a reader to a collector. It was at this time that he also started competing with a break dancing crew, which introduced him to hip-hop. As a freshman at South Carolina State University, Samuels eventually stepped up to the mic and developed his artistry as an emcee. In 2006, He signed with Domination Recordings, an Orlando based record label, and released four albums before the label dissolved in 2010.
On November 29, 2010, Jacksonville native Melody Jackson was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma, a slow growing benign tumor that develops on the main nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain. Branches of this nerve directly influence your body's balance and sense of hearing. As the tumor grows, it creates pressure that often results in hearing loss, ringing in your ear, dizziness, and loss of balance.
Jackson underwent her first surgery to remove the tumor on May 25, 2011. Going into the surgery, Jackson thought that she'd be free to return to her normal life once the tumor was removed. The damage was done, however, and even after surgery, hearing didn't return to her right ear. Jackson continued to suffer from vestibular imbalance as well as nystagmus and oscillopsia, two visual disorders. She also received the additional diagnosis of chiari malformation, structural defects in the base of the skull and cerebellum - the part of the brain that controls balance.
As a result of these maladies, Jackson's day-to-day life was impacted beyond measure. She began to feel like life was imploding. Jackson was no longer able to drive and tasks like standing and walking were impossible without the aid of a rolling walker, which restricted her mobility even further.
Marsha Hatcher, a South Georgia born visual artist, has lived and created in Jacksonville for the past 25 years. With the preferred mediums of acrylics, oils, and sometimes wood, Hatcher paints expressionistic portraits that adroitly capture a range of gripping emotions conveyed through the faces and bodies of black children, women, and men. Her work will be on exhibit in Through Our Eyes 2018, which opens with Family Fun Day on Saturday, February 3 at the Ritz Theatre and Museum in Jacksonville's historic neighborhood of LaVilla.
2018 marks the 25th anniversary of Through Our Eyes. The group show was the first time Hatcher exhibited her work in Jacksonville after moving to the city in 1989. Since rooting herself in Northeast Florida, she has submitted work for exhibition to 20 of the 25 years that the show has been in production.
The Unstated, The Expressed Intent, and The Driving Inspiration - 10 Questions with Writer Valarie Esguerra
Valarie Esguerra is an accomplished writer, educator, and creative consultant who is native to Jacksonville. She grew up writing, directing, and producing plays for her church, having felt that the available productions were not entirely reflective of her community. Esguerra continued to cultivate her talent for getting to the heart of the matter through her involvement with the local community theatre circuit. She participated in Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre's inaugural season 26 years ago and founder Carson Merry Baillie served as Esguerra's mentor.
Esguerra is one of four Jacksonville artists to participate in the pilot year of Lift Every Student, a collaborative arts integration program between Any Given Child Jacksonville, the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, and Duval County Public Schools. Esguerra and musician Lucy Chen and visual artists Sarah Crooks Flaire and Erin Kendrick are working as teaching artists in residence in Duval County's newly appointed arts integration schools during the 2017-18 academic year. The program was funded with the support of PNC through their Arts Alive grant program and private donor and sculptor David Engdahl.
All New Trends and Ideas are Born in the Cultural Underground - 10 Questions with Noli Novak, Senior Hedcut Illustrator for the Wall Street Journal
Visual artist Noli Novak has illustrated hedcuts since 1987 when she first began her career as a Staff Illustrator at the Wall Street Journal. The term hedcut comes from a newsroom abbreviation for "headline cut." They are hand-drawn, pen and ink illustrations. The technique resembles old style engravings and it gives the Journal its iconic look.
Novak recently celebrated 30 years at the Journal. Between her daily assignments and commissioned jobs, she has amassed a portfolio of work that includes tens-of-thousands of hedcuts that have been featured in international publications, corporate brochures, advertising, product and website illustration, and social media avatars. Her client roster includes Jim Beam, Nike, MTV Networks, and Infiniti, just to name a few.
Originally from Croatia, Novak began her career as an artist in New York City. There she met her now husband, Serigrapher George Cornwell, in 1986 and the two bonded over a shared passion for the visual arts and music. Soon after, they formed the band Gluegun, which featured Novak as vocalist, Cornwell on guitar, Jeff Sćios on bass, and Paddy Mike on drums. The group released their first album, Itch, in 1993 on Snob Hill Records. In 1996, they released the B-sides to Itch as a self-released 7" record.
An article I penned for Folio Weekly recently posted to their blog. The article is a recap of Gabe Darling's EP release show. You can read it HERE.