Jasmine Dukes may not be a name you recognize yet, but the person behind the name is someone whom you should familiarize yourself with sooner rather than later. Dukes is an emerging visual artist who calls Jacksonville home. After graduating high school Dukes enrolled at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2016, graduating Magna Cum Laud. Dukes will leave Jacksonville for Tallahassee in the fall of 2017 to start classes at Florida State University (FSU), where she will pursue her Master's degree in Art Therapy.
Dukes's work examines one of the oldest discussions in the history of psychology, the relationship between nature and nurture and how that relationship contributes to the formation of self identity. Through the artistic process, Dukes conducts self audits of who she was, who she currently is, and who she is becoming and her work serves as a surreal representation of self evolution over time. Dukes's connection to Mother Nature is a prevalent theme carried throughout her body of work and is depicted through the use of saturated colors and stylized portrayals of plant and animal life.
As a young artist, Dukes is forging a career path that merges her passion for the arts with her interest in psychology. Dukes participates in endeavors that advance the understanding of how the arts can impact mental health. Dukes has worked with both typically and atypically developing children and adolescents creating unique art projects in both school and museum settings.
It's only June and Dukes has already had an active summer. In May she curated "Black Chrysanthemum" a visual and audio showcase at Studio Zsa Zsa Lapree, a new exhibit space in downtown Jacksonville dedicated to helping emerging black artists connect to an audience. Dukes also exhibited her work during June's Art Walk as part of "Black Opal," an exhibit hosted by The 5 & Dime and curated by Kandice Clark. There will be an opening for the second installment of the exhibit on July 8 from 6:00 PM until 10:00 PM.
Dukes is one of four female artists participating in an independent studies program with Florida State College of Jacksonville (FSCJ) Professor Dustin Harewood. As part of that program, Dukes and her colleagues are painting murals at several sites on FSCJ's Downtown Campus under the direction of Harewood.
10 Questions with Jasmine Dukes
Do you have any patterns, routines, or habits when starting a new project?
I don't begin a new piece until I have a complete mental image. This image is created through days and weeks of continuous observation of the spaces both around me and within. I like to say that I "collect" snippets of life, minute details, and then let them simmer until all the pieces are put together to make a fully rendered visualization. All the while, I sketch, I write, and stare at the canvas.
Then I begin.
What have you learned about yourself through your artistic endeavors?
I've learned that I'm sensitive. I've learned that I like to feel in control, but that isn't always the case necessarily and I need to be okay with that. I've learned that my experiences and interests are commonly shared by others and my work allows us to come to a common ground - to connect.
I've learned to accept myself, to love myself, and to also accept and love others similarly.
How do you define success in what you do?
I define the success of a painting by how satisfied I am with my work when finished. Did I create the image I originally intended? Is my heart on the canvas? Am I ready the share this with others?
What was a seminal experience you had that led to your work examining the relationship between nature, nurture, and self identity?
I believe these concepts developed naturally. I never seemed to get away from doing self portraits, and I realized that each one was very different. Both my imagery and style/techniques developed in sync.
Over time, my portraits became more detailed and more precisely painted. These concepts were always implicitly present, but after years of continual self-discovery through my paintings, the ideas of nature vs nurture and identity no longer were the passengers, but rather the driver of my work.
How do you describe the link between mental wellbeing and arts engagement?
The arts allow us to express our selves in ways that may be easier than simply talking. We all need a catharsis. The arts serve as a creative outlet for the stresses of life that have a devastating impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. I encourage all, even those who don't consider themselves artists and despite the common phrase "I can't draw," to do it anyway.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling to unlock their inner creativity and how do you personally overcome creative blocks?
To those who are struggling to unlock their inner creativity, I advise keeping a sketchbook/journal. Write down or sketch out any ideas you think of, no matter how simple they may seem. Try to remember your dreams and don't be afraid of the medium, whether it be paint, pencil, clay, etc. It will come.
I do the above when faced with my own creative blocks. I try not to stress, but rather use the break as a time for the images I collect to build up. I do my best to remain patient because I know that when I put my brush to canvas again it will be great.
How do you engage with your audience and what measures have you taken to gain exposure as an artist?
Social media; I post progress pictures on both my personal and art-oriented Instagram accounts. I make an effort to occasionally go to gallery openings, Artwalk and the like. Recently I curated a show at Studio Zsa Zsa Lapree, where I showcased all of my completed paintings to the public for the first time.
My partner, Benache Dore, is a music composer and producer. For that show, we invited other visual artists and musicians to share their work too. It's a collaborative effort that we intend to continue.
How do you define the artist's role in society?
The artists role in society is to visually document the time. The good and not so great, the personal, and the universal. The artist works to erase the divide between all facets of society to emphasize the fact that we are all a part of the same whole.
What does it mean to you personally to be a young woman of color in the arts, specifically in the American south?
I want to be a positive representative of both my Latin and African American cultures. I want to influence other women of color in such a way that they too work hard for what they want in life. Ultimately, I want our presence to be known, to be acknowledged, to be accepted, and to be supported.
What would you like to see in Jacksonville as an effort to grow the city's creative economy?
I would like to see a more supportive community of artists and those that appreciate the arts. Bringing us together at various, and inclusive (age, medium, experience) events would foster both physical and monetary support amongst each other. This in itself may boost the confidence of those who are very talented but haven't yet become a part of the arts community. In a sense, we need a creative hub, in which artistic relationships may be built and the creative economy may be strengthened.