We had the good fortune of connecting with Jelonnie Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jelonnie, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
A phrase I think about a lot is, “All it takes is one.” In a sense, it’s my twist on “quality over quantity.” This is applied in multiple ways when it comes to the business. All it takes is one sale or one painting to keep the business going. All it takes is one person to love what I do. All it takes is one brushstroke to finish a piece. All it takes is one painting to put a smile on someone’s face or bring them to tears. All it takes is one person’s support. This being a business that is in the creative field, it’s important to remember that it’s not all about a million sales and a million pieces getting done (although it is nice). It’s really about appreciating the small things and people. And just as important, is the quality of these things and people. This is also why I want to continue to make quality work.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is definitely just an expression of my experiences as a Black woman and my fellow Black people that just never cease to amaze and inspire me. Whether it’s from shared experiences of sitting with Flexi rods in our hair or tying a durag or remembering the smell of the hot comb on the stove as a kid, I just want to capitalize on those shared experiences and put them in a picture. I also love the idea of rewriting narratives, so I’m hoping to do more with that in the near future. Getting to this point in my art took years of overcoming adversity and really coming into my own. My art really changed once I really learned more about myself and my roots as I got older. I had to go on a journey of realizing my value and worth and just how beautiful and amazing it is being Black and the culture that accompanies it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am staying in Boone, NC at the moment and it is absolutely gorgeous there. Personally, I’m not a super outdoorsy person but there are some nice views around the area. There are plenty of trails to walk during the summertime, the ones I’ve been to the most are the Greenway Trail and Moses H. Cone Trail. Out by Moses H. Cone Memorial, there are two man made lakes, a lookout tower, and an apple orchard. And if you’re lucky enough to be there on the right day, there are people that go horseback riding along the trail. There are also streams, rivers, and waterfalls that are absolutely gorgeous to see in the spring or summer, such as Guy Ford River, Trash Can Falls, and Snake Pit Falls. I will admit they are a bit of a walk but definitely worth it in the end. You can also go to Grandfather Mountain, which is just up the road from the small town, and see the view from the Mile High Bridge. Boone also has some overlooks where you can just see practically the whole town from above. If those are a little too physical, there’s always mini golf, go karting, fossil museums/gem mines, tubing down a river, a zip line park, and an axe throwing place. On top of that is a plethora of restaurants to eat at and it’s just a cute little place to drive through at night.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d have to say my close friends and family deserve a shoutout, but most importantly my parents. They’ve always been huge supporters of my art and my passion for it. I’ve been drawing and painting since I could remember and they were always the ones buying me sketchbooks and pencils and so many other art supplies, which they still do to this day. They are always the ones displaying and advertising my talents for anyone willing to listen. As a matter of fact, my mom was really the one to push me to make what I do a legitimate business and share her knowledge with me. I also love how my parents are always asking me questions about the business and about art and it just lets me know that they do care, if the amount of support wasn’t enough.