We had the good fortune of connecting with Deonna Janone and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Deonna, what are you inspired by?
My answer is unapologetically unoriginal. Truth and beauty. In different seasons within the cycle of my studio practice – I feel the urgency of one more than the other.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a self-taught artist who loves to observe and explore connections between the seen and the unseen. I do this primarily through gestural abstraction, and engaging with narratives – some of my own, and oftentimes with those of others. Right now, I am REALLY excited for a new studio schedule after the craziness of last year with three school-age kids and both parents working from home. Where I am professionally is a bit of a mystery to me. I have worked consistently to prioritize my studio work over the years. It has not been easy. Having a supportive spouse is priceless. Choosing to pursue this path, NOT as one of our family’s primary streams of income – but from a place of curiosity probably helped as well. It is a constant choosing of this curiosity-oriented path. In the last decade, I have worked from my kitchen counter, a corner in my living room, and a garage to name a few. Now, I work in a dedicated studio on the main floor of our home. I have had a few offers and bends in the road to pursue things more obviously “successful” – and to be honest, some of these opportunities I shied away from out of fear vs. any noble artistry… but fifteen years in, and I’m still here. I still love my work. I think I am continuing to grow in saying “yes” to things that scare me, and “no” to projects that don’t fit. My work is that of integration and restoration. This means willingly sifting through layers of being, wrestling with chaos that tries to assert itself as triumphant – ordering, sketching, and painting representational images, layering expressive brushstrokes, evoking emotion and various levels of consciousness. Bringing together what is seen and unseen.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First of all, for maximum enjoyment, let’s pretend that my friend arrives in either late April, or October. I would love to spend a day in and around Atlanta – visit the HIGH Museum, maybe catching Friday night Jazz. We could wander around Piedmont Park people-watching, grab an early dinner at Superica at Krog St. Market near the Beltline. Then, we can rent bikes -ride, and enjoy the sunset. One morning, we could go to Fellows Cafe in Roswell as we head North on 400 to a cabin near Blue Ridge, or up towards Asheville. There are so many great hiking trails, and so much outdoor beauty to explore – we could pick a different outdoor recreation each day! In Blue Ridge – we could hike the Benton MacKaye Trails, or the lower sections of the Appalachian Trail. If staying in the North-Eastern side of Georgia, we could get coffee at Jumping Goat Coffee in Helen and then explore around Tallulah Gorge, or Raven Cliffs. This past year has definitely given me a renewed appreciation for the joys of outdoor tourism.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am forever grateful to those of you who (repeatedly) choose to prioritize the inclusion of original art in their everyday lives. My definition here extends beyond the visual arts that I directly benefit from, to live music, performance art, and the written word. At this point of my practice, I am most grateful for my husband – a willing and constant sounding board for my ideas, my biggest supporter, and the person for whom I have the most respect. I have learned so much from him. Professionally, over the past year I am especially grateful for Stacey MacNevin (@staceymacnevin). She has grown to be a deeply appreciated artist friend. I always walk away from her paintings and our conversations more curious than I was before. I have a deep respect for her hard work and the visionary that she is. There are many more living artists whose work and connection makes my path less lonely: Ty Nathan Clark, Courtney Garrett, Christa David, and Lanecia Rouse Tinsley just to name a very few. Several of them probably do not know me from Adam, or recollect a message they sent in response, or a post they shared – but I deeply appreciate the substance that emanates from their work, as well as the heart.