Besides the fact that this gal and I live in the same city, -which automatically adds yet another hint of ‘coolness’ to the misunderstood and often stereotyped city of Miami, this interview relates on a very personal level because of a seemingly trivial matter: HAIR. This inspiring woman, with her fearless life philosophy, is an expression of art and her hair is no coincidence. Jenny’s beautiful, curly and dominant hair is an attention-deserving statement. Hair is such a subtly powerful tool of empowerment -or disempowerment, depending on the circumstances-, particularly when we’re talking about textured hair. Textured hair is not a trivial matter; it is everything from a motive for bullying, to an important visual and social aspect in political & civil movements in the past. I admit I am the first one to flat-iron the last curl out of my hair every so often, and I love, accept and defend the freedom to choose, but personally, there is something about letting my curls come out and play, rocking that “lion look”, and letting my hair speak volumes for myself before I say a word; embracing the statements that my natural hair have the power to express. Rocking big & loud curls, the type that announces our entrance into a new scenario, is more than a fashion statement, it is a claim of individuality, self-acceptance and a desire to place self-fulfillment and understandings of freedom above certain social expectations. It is wearable art, self-expression in its maximum form. It is a way of being.
Jenny Perez’ powerful hair statement is only a facet of her self-expression. After some life trial and error experiences including times in corporate jobs where she only corroborated how unfulfilling these jobs can be for a creative soul like herself, Jenny decided to devote her life to happiness over the security of a traditional job, and since then, has created her own version of “secure”, one that obtains financial stability through art, creativity, happiness and self-accomplishment, not the other way around. I truly admire how this lady challenges the commonplace practice of making life decisions based on fear; to me, using fear to comply to unhappiness, is just an excuse to victimize ourselves and not take the actions that move us towards our individual freedom. She is the proof that when we live in truthfulness with ourselves, beautiful things happen.
Jenny’s astonishing work comes at an exciting time for Miami, her determination, passion, and authenticity, combined with a growing art scene, only guarantee that we’ll hear more about her and her powerful creations. Jenny was nominated by Arlene Delgado, the inspiring lady I most recently had the pleasure of interviewing. Because all three of us live in the wonderful, sunny, vibrant and growing city, we will get together soon and share some lady power thoughts over coffee (or wine!). Can’t wait!
In the So What’s Your Story section on your blog, you portray an image that many of us can relate to. With “adulthood” we are expected or forced by financial circumstance to conform to jobs and routines that don’t necessarily make us happy, particularly those of us with creative needs. One day, you accepted your reality of being an artist, not wanting to conform to those rules and changed your life. In three words, describe yourself before and after this life-changing action.
Before: trapped, inert, pretending
After: liberated, bold , happy
How has this experience improved your life?
I am finally living authentically, which in itself, changes everything and feels so good! Things flow and opportunities continue to arise when you are living your truth and following your highest excitement. It’s a continuous evolution upward. I like being known for what I can offer the world, it provides such a sense of purpose and it is just a plus that people enjoy my work as much as I enjoy making it.
What is one challenge you have encountered and how have you surpassed it?
As an artist, it has always been a struggle to stay creative despite all the challenges of life. Yes, of course, financial difficulties get in the way sometimes and trying to fit my lifestyle into the “normal” stream of everyone else’s is also challenging. By that, I simply mean that while everyone is waking up to their 9-5 jobs I am probably still in the studio from the night before. I suppose the best way to truly not be affected and move forward creatively is to simply trust that you are exactly where you need to be. I am also always fluctuating between being this tortured artist struggling through life with so much on my mind and so much to express and then simply being 100% ok. I find that what keeps my sanity in check most, is the fact that I have found a platform to release and to express. Without painting, I would be more tortured I suppose, so I am grateful for this much at the very least.
As a major, long-term goal, what would you like the impact of your work to be?
If I were to close my eyes and dream up my most perfect most fulfilling dream, I would see my work in books, museums and be regarded as a monumental artist that shaped my generation’s creative identity, like Warhol did in the 60’s, and how Basquiat did in the 80’s. I would want the world to know who I am in the most intimate way. I’d like a documentary made of my life’s work.
If you could publish an autobiography, how would you title it?
A dream within a Dream
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Well Jen, here we are, we’ve got a full life ahead of us so lets tear it up.
Jump into the water before testing it out for temperature, trust that god’s got your back, so stop being so afraid. Lick your fingers for the extra indulgence after a yummy meal, close your eyes more and kiss the sky every morning for showing up for you. Please own yourself and all your impurities and make the world love each and everyone, tell them it is art, and believe me, nothing is ever that deep. It’s ok to fall in love, Stay humble and appreciate your mother – she means well.
What is your definition of a “dream life”? Are you living yours?
I am currently in a dream of my own. Yes. I am in love with my process, my friendships, and my career. I like thinking of all the things I have yet to accomplish and reminding myself of all the things I have, because it reminds me just how powerful the heart can be and how far you can go when you lead with it. It’s truly been an amazing journey and it’s so important to always remember those moments that made your heart dance. The definition of a dream life is: loving yourself and living your truth. I am in this pursuit.
What is your choice for each of the following:
A woman who has influenced your life or work – All the women in my life have influenced me to some degree, I could not imagine one without the other but I was raised by an exceptionally powerful set. My grandmother Mercedes is a badass in so many ways and my aunts Dinorah and Lisette have always taught me the most beautiful things about life and encourage me to continue to be a powerful pioneer within my own family and amongst peers.
A place – Barcelona was the city I felt most alive, I cannot wait to return and roam the streets in search of Gaudi with a fat piece of bread and cheese in hand.
A song- Valerie by Amy Winehouse, gets me every time.