The Artwork of John Jennings

Egotistical Me Presents…

The Art of John Jennings…

John Jennings is an artist, designer and educator.  Currently an Associate Professor in Visual Studies at the University of Buffalo (SUNY), he also uses his time wisely to educate the world on art visually and verbally.  In this article John brings to you some of his amazing work.

This series of art is a digitally vivid look at the ideology of black skin and its perception in society, John explains the work…

The “cyborg” pieces are part of a series called MATTERZ OF THE FACT. The title comes from Frantz Fanon’s seminal essay on race called THE FACT OF BLACKNESS. The essay is a chapter in BLACK SKINS, WHITE MASKS. The idea behind the use of the cyborg metaphor is that “blackness”, as Fanon posits, is only a social construction and that the actual black person is trapped within the body that is constructed for them. The metal skin represents this unchanging, stereotypical idea and the flesh represents the actual self. I used the cyborg as a symbol to show the negotiation between these two selves; real and imposed.

The 70 or so images in the series depict various stereotypes of black people throughout history. The idea is that the stereotype never really goes away…it just shifts and morphs into new forms. The series looks at the “technologies” of racism, otherness, and identity as seen through the lens of a postcolonial mindset. They are meant to make people question the way we look at ourselves and the narratives that we perform…sometimes in spite of ourselves.

Take some time to look at some of the art work from MATTERZ OF THE FACT…

EgotisticalMe recently interviewed John…


Talk about what art is to you.

To me art is about expressing truths about yourself and about the world

and not being afraid of what happens after the truth is out. It’s pure self

expression and it was created to show people their environment, both

real and imagined, in the most pure and uncut perspective as possible.

Art is supposed to cause trouble.


A lot of people don’t understand how to interpret art, can you give some insight into that?

In our society, art is devalued as a practice. It is considered a leisurely interest of the upper class and is sometimes shunned by the working class as frivolous and perceived to be a waste of time and effort. The truth is that art and visual culture helps to develop critical thinking skills and enhances the experiences of citizens of our country who are exposed to the arts on any level.

Our society is very capitalist. As a result, it looks at the citizens as commodities; as objects whose purpose has already been decided. Certain people are to be exposed to visual literacy and the arts and certain people are not. This is a method of keeping certain people for experiences things outside of the class or caste they are born into and it is a way of decreasing the knowledge base of a certain segment of the population.

If art was experienced by everyone as a part of the general curriculum and not as some marginalized incidental experience, then it would be understood and appreciated just like any other subject. You never see “science appreciation” or “math appreciation” right? Because these subjects are given priority and understood as necessary. Students have to be taught the value of the arts through ancillary courses like art and music appreciation and the very existence of these types of courses helps to marginalize the arts. The educational experience is compartmentalized. Each subject is taught as if they don’t relate to all the others. This type of thinking is one of the reasons that our school system suffers. Students are taught to just learn information for some type of test and not how to apply it and make connections. The visual arts are all about conceptualization and execution. The arts are vital. They help students become better thinkers…which is why they aren’t pushed in school.

We can’t have TOO MANY thinkers right?

How do you think art influences today’s world?

I think that we are influenced a great deal by the various art. The problem is that we don’t usually think of art as art when it’s staring us in the face. If I were to take every piece of art that someone experiences on a day to day basis and stop them from having access to it…the world would be in turmoil. Art is what our soul looks like. It’s an aspect of ourselves and it connects us through time, space, race, religion, and belief. Art is what drives us and what we make when we learn how to not be afraid of every nuance of what it means to be human. Art is God smeared on a canvas.

The list above represent a cross section of designers, writers, theorists, activists, and artists that I have been exposed to in one way or another who have, in some fashion, helped to shape who am as a human being as a thinking citizen of society.


What kind of artwork are you currently working on?

I am working a lot of sequential art right now. Several ideas for graphic novels. I am also adapting some work into book form. In addition to that, my research partner Damian Duffy and myself are working with a choreographer and dancers in order to produce a “ChoreoGraphic Novel”. Basically, a sequential art piece that is partially performed as a dance.

John has more artwork displayed on blogs at and make sure to check out it.


Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s