We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Blinkhorn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
The simplest answer is I don’t give up! Maybe my attitude is largely because of my disability but I like to think it’s a quality that my parents instilled in me because of my disability. Sure, there are times when I’m exhausted. Sometimes, what I expect the outcome to be is not always what it is and this leaves me feeling as though I want to put my hands in the air and just scream but giving up is never really an option. I just find another way! I fancy myself the MD MacGuyver, if something doesn’t work the first time I try then I reassess the situation and self accommodate accordingly. This holds true and both my creative life as well as my personal life. I always try to remember obstacles are put in our way, not to hinder growth and success but build courage and strength in the roots to be successful.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am an Atlanta-based artist and performance artist. My work advocates for the disabled, aging, and LGBTQ+ communities and focuses on acceptance through acknowledgement of difference, body positivity, disability education through experience and exposure, human sexuality, and story-telling. Because of the deteriorative nature of my disease, I began to explore performance art in graduate school to assist with creating and constructing a social narrative to promote change and inclusion when creating visual works became increasingly difficult.
I want to explore the duality of living with a disability on social media and in my visual and performative works. Visibility of challenges as well as triumphs is an absolute necessity in the aforementioned communities for actual change to take place. I find making my challenges a part of the narratives in my visual works and performances a way to educate people about issues in our community(s) as much as a way to overcome these challenges.
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?
The pandemic has changed the way we interact with the city. However, if I had a guest in town we would first visit the BeltLine for sure! Not only is it an accessible and safe form of environmental independence where obstacles are few, it’s an open air gallery showcasing the best artists in the city, and a tasty Mecca of mouth-watering restaurants! We would likely pop into Krog Street Market for Gu’s wok seared green beans or Superica’s guacamole, hit Victory for a Jack and Coke slushies, and browse Ponce City Market. The evening would belong to the East Atlanta Village with dinner and drinks at Argosy and dancing at Mary’s. Bonus if we arrive during a sensational artist’s market day so I can expose my friends to the work of one of my favorite local artists, Jeramy Muxworthy!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate my Shoutout to my parents, Donna and Jerry Blinkhorn, for their selflessness and constant support, Sally Robertson, Department Chair of Theatre and Fine Arts at Georgia State University and Perimeter Colleges in Clarkston, for supporting my love for teaching and believing in my abilities in the classroom and studio, and my students for teaching me as much as I have taught them. Lastly, my bestfriend and caregiver for 12 years now, Alex Clark. You have been my arms, my legs, my constant companion, and a source of strength and enlightenment. I know it is time for you to move on in life and I wish you luck and love in all your endeavors.
Dave Roland, Atlanta Isabella Amaya Grote, Atlanta Emerson Sigman, Chicago Walter Wlodarczyk, New York Chelsea Markuson, Kentucky