GET TO KNOW THE ARTIST BEHIND ULTRAVIOLET: UNHARMED
beSocial Charlotte welcomes The Residency, a space living within beSocial dedicated to providing a platform for artists of all stages to exhibit their work each month curated by King Carla.
Carla noticed a great lack of space for artists to showcase their work in the art community. Her goal is to curate a series of local artists who deserve solo exhibitions through The Residency. Carla carefully curated Jaillin Johnson, also known as Ori Jai, to be featured at The Residency’s opening on October 20th, 2023.
Carla states that Jaillin’s work has a developed purpose that requires viewers to not only look, but also feel emotion due to the mood nature of her images. Jaillin intentionally explores the dark emotions that women experience, but never talk about, offering a different perspective on how she defines contemporary Blackness.
Learn more about the multi-faceted artist Jaillin Johnson, also known as Ori Jai, who will be having her first solo exhibition through The Residency.
Carla: Jaillin, congrats on your first solo exhibition. How do you feel?
Jaillin: I am nervous, I am still in awe, I’ve always wanted to be an artist, even when I was younger. It’s a dream come true.
Who is Jaillin? Tell us about yourself, walk us through your journey to becoming an artist.
Jaillin is a goof. I love to laugh, I love anime and horror films. Anything a little dark and creepy, I’m there. I always knew I wanted to be an artist, but it did take me years of self love laced unlearning to realize the vast scope of mediums that art encapsulated; and that was freeing. Over time, I’ve wanted to be an architect, an oil painter, vinyl cover maker — the list goes on and on, because these were all artistic “jobs” that I had seen. Experimenting with all of these mediums have allowed me to step outside the box of what art is or can be, and that’s when my art became the best.
How would you describe your practice? What is your process?
I would describe my practice as introspective communal work. I feel like all of my art is a lens or a mirror to self, but in the same way it’s also revealing a lot about society and not only my community, whether that be being a Black woman, or first gen whose parents are from Africa, or insert all of these things here. I feel like telling my story is telling a lot of people’s story, and I don’t take that for granted, at all.
I take inspiration from anything and everything. I take pictures of anything I find outside. I’m like, “Oh, that's a really cool leaf”, I’m gonna take a picture of it and then two months later it might turn into a collage piece or I might want to build upon it design wise. I just feel like being a student of everything makes me a better artist everyday.
What do you think about your journey so far? Where do you see yourself in the future?
My journey so far has been a lot of trial and error. I feel like I had to learn how to let go of perfection, and I feel like that’s going to carry me really far because I feel like being a perfect artist to me personally is kind of being a boring artist. I love finding all the kinks and wrongdoings and the happy accidents as Bob Ross said, I think it makes me a better artist and it keeps me on my toes. I think that is not only a good lesson to have in your art practice, but as a human being as well, gotta be agile.
What inspires your process/practice?
Nature. Horror movies. Dark twisted things. Just how beautiful history is, it always comes back. For my process there definitely needs to be loud music playing and I need some type of fruit.
Describe your favorite art experience so far.
This March, three days before my birthday, I was in a show at the Harvey B. Gantt Center. That was such a beautiful experience because not only was it a museum, it is one of the – if not the prominent Black museum in the South. So, just to be invited there and to be alongside a few friends of mine that were also in that show, it was a real awe-inspiring moment, I felt really adult at that moment.
What are other practices, experiences, and/or artists you’d like to see/do?
I would really love to get back into martial arts. I have the need to go to the Basquiat exhibition in California, I just need to go there, Basquiat is one of my favorite artists. He never allowed anyone to put him in a box and he didn’t codeswitch, I love that, too. I would like to get to the places I want to get to with my art without having to code switch or mask, I want to show up exactly who I am, as I am. And they can’t help but want the artwork because it’s so fire, that’s just where I want to be in my art practice.
How would younger Jaillin see you today?
Younger Jailin would think that I am so fire. I used to be kinda shy, not timid, but kinda quiet. She would be so excited that we’re just talking more and I think that younger Jailin would definitely want to be mentored by older Jailin. I think that’s really cool actually.
Name an album you can listen to with no skips while you work.
Hotter than July by Stevie Wonder.
What other artists should we know about in your city?
Fart PDF and Dammit Wesley.
Ultraviolet: Unharmed is a solo exhibition dedicated to the light within, the light that may only be seen at times from a few, but that does not negate its existence. A love letter to self through the intricate reworks of collage, remembrance of history through moments captured through photography.
Join Jaillin Johnson and Carla at beSocial Charlotte as we dive into the works of Ori Jai on 10.20 at 6 PM.