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Hello everyone my name is Reshada Pullen-Jireh, I am a visual artist based here in the DC Area.  

 

I grew up in Chesterfield County right outside of Richmond, VA in the 1980s and 90s.  Schools in Virginia had only been integrated for 15 years when I started kindergarten.  We were taught tolerance, and colorblindness and discovered accepted whiteness as normal and anything other than whiteness was seen as a step away from the norm.  People were frequently used in print media, marketing, and entertainment, but very little showed black people.   I learned socially that as a girl, my silence was  expected, that as a child, my silence was expected, and as a black person, my silence was expected, and as a black person raised in integrated spaces, my silence was expected.  I took art classes in school because it was the only class that permitted me to be creative, it was the only space where I was expected to express myself.

When I was a kid, I was exposed to a lot of art, but almost no art that featured black people.  I didn’t know black art was a thing until my grandmother started collecting art when I was an older teenager.  She felt a great deal of pride seeing beautiful depictions of black women all around her home.

In 11th grade we had an assignment to create a digital work of art in Photoshop then use traditional media to recreate it.  I loved the process, and was excited to create a painting as beautiful as the paintings my grandmother collected.  After that assignment, I chose to pursue art.  I was confident in my ability to draw, but painting is a completely different approach to making.  I did not know how to paint well.  In class we only used paint once annually.  I figured it was because my instructors didn’t know how to paint.  So I prayed and asked God to teach me how to paint.  My logic was, that If I believed the Bible was true, if I believed that God knows everything, and I believed that God talked to all of those people, and that He is no respecter of persons, that Yahweh, God of the Universe, would speak to me and teach me how to paint.    My dad bought a starter set of acrylics, some canvas panels, and paintbrushes for me.  I sat in front of my sketchbook and supplies, and I began to hear the Holy Spirit speak to my heart on how to paint.  He told me things that I’d never heard.. How to hold my brush, how to watch what happens when I apply paint to canvas, how to wait, and watch and manipulate my media to get a variety of results.  Over the course of my senior year I went from a disjointed portfolio of maybe 3-4 works to a 24 piece, unified body of work.  Since then I’ve gotten my BFA in Art Education from VCU, I went to MICA for Grad school.  I’ve been teaching elementary art for 19 years.  I was a weekly live painter for Wednesday Verses at Bohemian Caverns and Firehouse Restaurant for 8 years  I’ve painted live for hundreds of other events and presently I paint here at Busboys in Hyattsville for 4th Thursdays with EBaby as the Open Mic Host. I was my  church’s visual arts ministry leader for 7 years.  Now, I sell my work at festivals during the summer months and through my website, and I run &Paint, a Virtual Paint Party Business.   Last year, I joined a fellowship that became an artist collective and began to actively pursue exhibiting at galleries on a consistent basis.

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