Jenni JohnstonArtist - Executive Director - Board of Directors - Art School of Peterborough
‘Creativity is contagious, pass it on.’ Albert Einstein
Art has allowed me to heal, grow and share as an individual. It has helped shape the person that I have become today.
Art has been a release for me, a way to communicate my emotions with the outside world. As most artist struggle to communicate and tell their story, so do I.
Tragically my younger brother passed away at an early age. As one can image this affected me and my other family members greatly. With very little words to describe my feelings my sub conscious took over and started to allow me to tell my story through my art. It wasn’t till I participated in the Off Campus program in Florence Italy through the Ontario College of Art and Design that I truly saw the significance that art can do for an individual. Of course, I was unsure what to paint and ended up painting a broken chair that was hanging around in my studio. I thought I was painting a studio chair like many other masters had done in the past. This chair was broken, held together with wire around it’s legs, and even had a tape with words, “Don’t stand on”. Upon completion I sat back against a wall to admire my creation. It was that moment that I realized the life size chair propped up against an empty wall stood in as a symbol for the absence of my brother. Through this elegant yet fragile chair, I realized this was my voice that needed to be heard.
From that point on, my emotions and experiences transpired throughout each canvas whether I tried to or not. My subjects often depicted objects left behind, with a feeling of emptiness. This still shows up in my paintings today. My artwork has mimicked my life experiences. My paintings became playful with the birth of my children though the subject matter remained the same.
Of course like every artist I strive to sell my work, though I often find the act of painting is what inspires me to continue. It is the process and working through the obstacles along the way that I find exciting. Often once I have completed a piece, I am no longer attached to it. I have worked through it, learnt from it and now I can release it to others to enjoy.
As my life became busier with the birth of my daughter and then twin boys shortly after, my time for painting was limited. Life was crazy, and it still is! I thought three under the age of 3 was busy but my time now is spent taxiing everyone around.
Even though my personal painting time is still limited I am able to share the joy that art can bring through my job. As Executive Director of the Art School of Peterborough, a not for profit organization, I am driven to show our community that art can be beneficial in so many way. Art doesn’t just need to be a pretty picture on the wall.
Taking on a struggling not for profit organization made me determined to see a difference. As small changes were made throughout the years, our organization developed a supportive creative family. The school not only became a place where students could technically grow their artwork, but became a place where they felt comfortable to develop supportive relationships.
As time goes on I continue to find ways to bring the joy of art into our community. I strive to share the benefits of art with others, either through the joy of making or experiencing. Sharing this passion of mine may only make a little ripple in reality, though hopefully one day my little ripples will have a big effect on our community.
My story might seem sad to most, yes I would love to have my brother with me, but my experiences have brought me here to where I am today. I witness daily the benefits that art can make. I love that my dedication to this thriving art school allows others to heal, grow and share….just like I did.
It is the most rewarding experience.