We had the good fortune of connecting with Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jodie, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I am originally from Manchester, Jamaica. I often reflect on my childhood there. I grew up in the countryside where the natural landscape was abundant with greenery and the warmth of the diverse characters found in the Jamaican people. The landscape was where I most often found my playground. Growing up in Jamaica in the late 1970’s and early 80’s there was no Toys R’ Us or anything like that. Not even a toy store. This was a time before commerce and trade was more commonplace. I found enjoyment in nature itself by making cakes out of mud and the icing with the little flowers that my mom would call weeds.
The Barbie dolls were another story. Though I had a few, I had to make their new outfits out of the scraps of my mother’s sewing projects. She would make me pajamas and I was inspired to do the same for my dolls.
Agriculture plays a role with both sides of the family making a living from their farmed food crops. So I had a huge respect for the land from seeing this. I have even taken part in the harvesting of the crops from a young age helping both grandmothers pick scallion and deshelling the peas.
I walked to and from school picking blueberries and had friends whose families hailed from all over the globe. I think all of this has impacted my resourcefulness and open minded outlook on life. Today, I am an interdisciplinary artist and educator. I also love the adventures from traveling and learning about places and cultures.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art is non-traditional. I like to experiment with all sorts of materials. I make drawings, objects, wearable art, performances, and videos. These are mostly informed by my mixed Chinese, Jamaican, European heritage, political and natural landscapes, and these traditions, histories, and herstories. My life as an artist is not easy. I didn’t get into this thinking it would be either. The challenge of being an artist is what keeps me alive.
As cliche as this may sound, I overcame the challenges in my life by being an artist. Art fulfills the deep desire within me to be sane. Art is what keeps me happy.
Lessons I’ve learned along the way is that it’s good to take risks. One does not grow without taking risks. One should not forget where they come from. If you don’t know your history, you don’t know where you’re going.
I’d like the world to know that I’m in this for life.
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.
Day 1- Lunch in Chinatown. Dim Sum. Gallery hopping in the Lower East Side. Dinner at a local vegan, Thai, or Indian spot probably.
Day 2- Breakfast at home. Yoga at home or at a park. I’d probably have to break for a work meeting or to do some studio time and leave them on their own to do some neighborhood shopping or something. Dinner at a Ramen spot in K-Town.
Day 3- Breakfast at home. If in the summertime, we could take a ferry ride to Governors Island. We could bike ride there, have lunch by the water or a picnic on one of the big lawns. Get back home in time to cook a nice dinner. Call it a night.
Day 4- Breakfast is a bagel at a nearby bagel spot in Ridgewood, Queens. A walk to the local buy, sell, trade, thrift shops. Lunch at home. I’d break for a few hours of work. Maybe take them to my studio. They’d do their own thing. Maybe we’d cook dinner at home. Watch a movie or go for a drink at a rooftop and/ or local bar.
Day 5-Breakfast at home. Yoga at home or in the park or a bike ride. If it’s summer time we’d take a subway ride to Fort Tilden Beach to get some sun, waves, lunch and drinks. We’d then explore by going to Battery Harris East, a viewing platform that has 360-degree views, including the city, New York Harbor, and the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe steam some dumplings for dinner back at home.
Day 6- A big fat brunch. A museum trip. They may like the New Museum. Dinner in the area.
Day 7- Breakfast at home, or in the hood. Bookstore, cafe. I’ll send them off well.
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?
Since it’s just one person I’d like to give a shot out to my mom. She’s supported me along the way and still is!
Other: Project IG: @junkanooacome Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/jodielynkeechow
Chanel Matsunami Govreau, Corey Folta, Miao Jianxin, Maria Fernanda Hubeaut, Nina Isabelle