Profile: Nneka Jones

Nneka Jones is an international student at UT from the beautiful twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. In her junior year, Nneka is majoring in fine arts with a minor in marketing. I decided to interview her because as a person who isn’t entirely creative on her own, Nneka’s work is amazing. Her paintings are incredibly realistic and leave me amazed that it’s not an actual photograph.


How long have you been creating art?

I was always very observant as a child. Some might argue that every child is very curious, but there was something different about the way I saw things. Everything that I observed, I wanted to recreate. If I was not drawing in my sister’s books, I was creating my own comic/ scrap book at around age 5/6.


What is your favorite technique?

If I were to choose one, it would be painting because of its ability to mirror all of the other techniques.


What do you mean by that?

A painting, whether oil or acrylic, is two dimensional. But with the right skill and patience, the artist can create the illusion that the work is three dimensional.


Who is your inspiration?

Anyone looking at my work could see that I strive for hyperrealism. I am especially fascinated with facial features and how I can manipulate this to create a story. What captures my eye the most in other artists’ work is the composition and content. What is the artist trying to portray? Why? How? What story are they trying to tell? I love artists such as Jonathan Guy-Gladding (painter) from St. Lucia, Sherlann Peters (sculptor) from Trinidad and Tobago, and recently I’ve discovered work from my Professor, Chris Valle (painter); all of which do a fantastic job of using the human figure and content to make interesting art.

So other than faces, what is it you love to paint?

The theme of my work almost always has something to do with the human figure, women in particular. I believe that the Caribbean is a melting pot of many different cultures and ethnicities, so we have a rich history. I am particularly interested in our connection to Africa, especially in the culture of my home country, Trinidad and Tobago. My work also explores the idea of the modern woman and reflects the strides that women have made over the years to reach positions that would seem impossible a few years ago-- the idea of a “modern emancipation”.


What do you do when you run out of creativity?

I usually turn to social media platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest, to see the works of other artists, and if it sparks anything at all, even as simple as a word, then I would grab my sketchbook and start brainstorming.


Can you tell us more about the current projects you’re working on?

My most recent painting was a non-traditional portrait in which my friend, Emely (our very own Emely Medina!), posed for a picture that I used as reference. The artwork is a metaphor for the impact and power of words. Many people overlook the strength that words have to hurt you, heal you, humble you, make you happy, etc. For this piece, however, I focused on the concept of harsh words that can be stifling. The photography process required a dark background, lights, plastic (for stifling effect) and a sharpie marker to write the harsh words. The painting was then completed in oil paint.


Do you incorporate your art into other parts of your life?

I am the artistic director for the Caribbean Student Association. My role is to manage the artistic aspects of the organization, like making digital flyers, poster boards, and hosting general board meetings/ paint parties (Paint n’ Wine!). I have also started my own business and Youtube channel. You can check me out at @artyouhungry through Youtube, Instagram and Facebook.


What’s your dream goal?

Definitely to keep improving my artistic skills. I would also like to be a creative entrepreneur, managing my own gallery and selling my artwork on a large scale to art collectors around the world.


Now, what’s some advice you would give to your younger self?

Do what YOU love and never let the opinions of others dictate your life. Taking advice from others is healthy, but it becomes extremely unhealthy when it begins to cloud your own judgement and you can’t make decisions on your own.


You can see her amazing art on her Instagram, @artyouhungry!