Julie Jean-Mary, a Black, Haitian American artist, from Orlando, FL—makes drawings, paintings, and sculptures. Jean-Mary focuses on the idea of challenging ‘societal norms’ and more specifically the dismantling of the European beauty standards placed upon people of color. Her drawings and paintings are depictions of people and hair in a terrestrial and supernatural sense. She also emphasizes textures of hair, through sculpture and portraiture, as a form of resistance against the concept of exclusive beauty. Her works demonstrate how beauty extends beyond its own subjective limits, and often tell a story through the portraits of people, who would usually be ignored.
What is one thing you’d like our readers to know about you?
I would like readers to know that I am proud of who I am and where I come from. My life experiences whether good or bad have allowed me to push further and to see the beauty in my life journey. In being a Haitian-American Black Woman, I found that I did not fit into any boxes, so I became the box and accepted me for me.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
My inspiration is sourced from my Haitian upbringing on American soil. Though I was born in America, I was brought up speaking creole, eating Haitian foods, Haitian traditions as well as values. My Haitian background is stemmed from Africa and as a culture, we still hold many styles of dress, composure, and lifestyle very similarly. I use bold colors and prints in my work as well as tribal inspirations. I am also inspired by afro-futurism as well as the culture of afro hair and hairstyles. My work’s purpose is to bring empowerment and self-love.
Why do you create and how has your art practice affected your life?
Creating and making has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. For me, creating has become my voice and my way of expressing myself because I am not naturally someone who speaks often. Creating has also become my therapy and my escape to cope with situations and the heavy burdens of the world or life. My art practice has affected my life by giving me the platform to say what I would have never said aloud. My art practice has also affected my life by allowing me to empower myself as well as others who deserve to be seen and heard. My art practice has given me the opportunity to wear many hats from learning to teaching and leading. My art practice has given me the privilege of creating stories and prolonging stories that were unfinished.