North Texas Daily

University senior expresses inner emotions, personal identity via art

University senior expresses inner emotions, personal identity via art

University senior expresses inner emotions, personal identity via art
February 24
14:00 2023

With the endless possibilities of lines, shapes and colors, art is more than just a hobby for certain creatives — it is a medium for storytelling.

Graphic design and printmaking senior Jalon Isabell, 22, uses his art to express the emotions he does not typically let others see.

“I do most of my pieces based off a feeling I’m feeling in the moment,” Isabell said.

He began taking art classes in sixth grade, and by junior year of high school, Isabell saw his passion for art fully develop. Through his pieces, he could tangibly depict what he felt inside. 

Isabell’s friend Grace Burton, 21, said through his art, people can see what is actually going on in Isabell’s head. Along with this, Burton has seen themes throughout Isabell’s portfolio, including exploration of himself and “some of the burdens he has come across.”

“It definitely shows the side of himself he never lets other people see,” Burton said.

Isabell believes the boldness of his style allows people to see the hand of the artist. 

“I try to have a lot of mark-making show through the work,” Isabell said. “I like to have like a very harsh mark.”

University studio art professor Lari Gibbons, 52, said Isabell’s art is inquisitive and ever-changing. Along with finding his art complex, Gibbons said what draws people into Isabell’s work are the questions he asks. 

“He’s really interested in that intellectual investigation and reflection on identity and self, and what it means,” Gibbons said. “It’s complex, it’s joyous, it’s energetic, but […] most importantly, it’s rich with many ideas.”

Gibbons admires Isabell’s work ethic, as he readily adapts to everything she has shared with him and values how he investigates himself and portrays his state of mind through his art.

Isabell not only wants to make good art, but also wants to make art that makes people think.

“I want to make a piece that makes them curious,” Isabell said. “I want them to be like, ‘What? Why do you feel this emotion?’ I want to make art that makes people question what was the artist thinking.”

The artist said he finds it easier to express his emotions through artistic mediums, rather than vocalizing them himself. The emotions Isabell explores vary from piece to piece, but he has some he works with more than others.

“I don’t talk a lot, so most of my art does the talking for me,” Isabell said. “Mostly I work with the feelings of being angry and stressed. Other times the feeling of emotional numbness can be seen in some pieces.”

Having the ability to express his inner self through his art is important to Isabell, who wants the community to see the emotions in his pieces. Gibbons said, as an artist, Isabell does not sit in one place. He looks for different and new ways to express himself. 

“[It] is important to me because mostly my outer self truly never reflects my inner self, and letting that inner voice have some voice is calming to my psyche,” Isabell said. 

The artist’s work comes from a long list of influences, including his family and African American identity. He said he is influenced to make art that differs from society’s “stereotypical” expectations of being invulnerable.

“I like to show [a] different side of being African American, a more vulnerable side,” Isabell said. “I was always told growing up to not show your emotions to other people because they would assume you were weak, so I created a persona that did not feel anything. In actuality, I did have a lot of emotion to a lot of things happening around me.”

Through his art, Isabell wants people to know there is not one right way to live or act.

“I want to show that there is no right way to be an African American or a person,” Isabell said. “It would be cool to inspire other minorities with my art in the long run so that a new standard can be set in the community. I hope people can see it and relate.”

Featured Image Jalon Isabell stands next to his piece, “Dissection of a Hollow Man” on Feb. 16, 2023. MaKenzie Givan

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Madison Brewster

Madison Brewster

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