In preparation for Art Basel we expose you to the heart and soul behind Miami’s art scene.
Jenny Perez is a talented contemporary artist, muralist and a special human being. Her murals are recognized throughout Miami, from Whole Foods to walls around Wynwood.
What is the first inspiration you can remember wanting to paint/draw?
My first inspiration was my own culture which begins with afro-cuban roots, down to my Miami girl slang. I wanted to paint about being a woman, a latina and about my ancestry.
That lead me down a long road, where I developed more for the are of exaggeration and cubism and my interest became focused on manipulating the human figure- primarily a woman’s face. hence how I created my character.
Who are artists that inspire you?
I’ve always been inspired by the local talent here in Miami. I’m proud to say that we’ve bread some pretty incredible artists- one of my favorites being Purvis Young and David Lebo.
It wasn’t until much later into my exploration of art and the history of art that I began to dive deeper into contemporary art museums and discovered the works of Warhol and Basquiat of which are now my greatest influences. Most obviously, I’ve also taken notes from the works of the great Pablo Picasso as well, who I just love so much.
What has been the most challenging moment in your career?
It is hard to pinpoint a primary challenge – If I’m being honest, I’ve had quite a few, but, I do feel like the hardest part about doing what I do, is believing in myself enough to continue to do it- despite all the odds. I never really had the support of my family, and most people just expected me to give up and get a “real job” at some point. I think for me, it continues to be a challenge to push past that and really stay focused and inspired.
What has been your proudest moment?
I always say “there’s never any music playing when your dreams are coming true”. It’s quite true. Most of my moments come and go in such a flash- sometimes they are huge career accomplishments or sometimes, just really interpersonal. As of right this second, I am most proud that I am at a place in my career where I am trusting it more than I ever have. It’s liberating really… to just know that it’s always got my back.
What do you consider your biggest challenge or weakness?
I believe most people, myself included, are built in a way where our greatest strength is also, if not nurtured, our greatest weakness. Id say, without a doubt, mine is staying grounded (like on this planet, lol). The very quality that enables me to create and see beyond the physical- invent something, feel things, is the very reason why I can be forgetful, why I’m not really so present and why sometimes I have a hard time embracing reality- finding a balance between both worlds is really a challenge.
What do you consider your biggest strength?
I’d like to think that my greatest strength is that I am comfortable with vulnerability, which is what I find most helpful as an artist. I am ok with sharing, with feelings, with the uncomfortable and even in my own darkness. I am able to express- and because of this, I paint.
What was the greatest lesson you learned from a mistake?
Always trust your intuition.
What do you love most about what you do?
That I can be myself, all the time. I don’t have to clock-in and out or wear some sort of uniform. I am living in my highest excitement. It’s a luxury these days.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
If you love something enough, then it’s worth the risk
How do you define happiness?
Feeling whole. Wholeness is totally a thing ya know.
What book are you currently reading?
I am currently reading “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol”. I like his mind- he was such an interesting man. He inspires me more than his work does.
What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
I treat painting with as much discipline and vigor as I do my habit of going to the gym and meditating. I treat it like it is my vitality- because it truly is.
What is your higher purpose you aim to achieve through your art?
I would say, it is to make a difference in the world. I want people to talk about it forever. I want it to inspire other people. I hope someday I’ll have someone writing my name in the box that asks “who are artists that inspire you?”