1) What is your ethnicity?
• Liberian and African American
2) What is your medium(s) of choice?
• Pen, ink and digital
3) What scale/ dimensions do you usually work in?
• 11” X 17”
4) How old were you when you began creating?
• I was about 5 years old when I started drawing on a regular basis.
5) What were some of your earliest inspirations?
• My father, who is an a architect, African art, fashion illustration and comic books (naturally).
6) Who are some of your favorite visual artists?
• George Perez, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Brian Stelfreeze, Steve Rude and Alan Davis.
7) What are some of the consistent themes in your work and please describe them?
• Family, social discourse, African and African American history, politics, mythology and folklore.
8) Are there any other art forms such as music, dance, acting, culinary arts, or other creative domains you occupy that we should know about?
• I have a podcast on iTunes called Ghetto of the Mind. It’s a monthly mixtape of Hip Hop, Jazz, Soul, R&B, and Electronic music… Anything that I enjoy playing.
9) Name 3 of your biggest accomplishments in your artistic career?
• Creating The Horsemen and my company Griot Enterprises.
• Speaking at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art because of my work on The Horsemen.
• Creating The Song of Lionogo: An Indian Ocean Mythological Remix for the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.
10) What purpose does your art serve for the viewer?
• My work examines the root of the superhero, mythology, thereby taking an esoteric approach to the genre. Mythology allows me to craft a story featuring people with abilities that though they use those powers for good,
they are still subjected to the same feelings and frustrations we all have living in these modern times.
11) Would you consider yourself a relativist when it comes to art appreciation?
• No. I do not believe that all points are equally valid. As an illustrator, my work has a definitive meaning and I strive to make sure that the audience feels and understands my point of view when experiencing my work.
12) Is there any art you don’t like?
13) Please expand on your voice as an artist and explain why it is necessary to share?
• The worlds I create are populated with characters from multiple cultures, which reflect our diverse reality. From my original creations like The Horsemen to The Song of Lionogo: An Indian Ocean Mythological Remix, which I developed for the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, I create positive visions of heroes of various ethnicities performing amazing feats of courage and bravery, instilling a sense of wonder and pride to the viewer.
14) Would you consider yourself a socially conscious artist or art activist? Explain.
• Everything I make is Protest Art.
15) Please name 3 tangible goals you seek to accomplish in your artistic career
• My primary goal is to increase the Griot Enterprises brand, all of its titles, and to further bring The Horsemen to the masses. In addition, the Griot Enterprises imprint, Blaxis Publishing is releasing the multiple-volume series 4 Pages | 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape, which focuses on independent comic book creators of color. The point is to grow Griot Enterprises as a business and to continue to create provocative sequential works that stimulate and entertain.
Comics truly have the ability to touch people across the globe. Comics know no boundaries; they are truly democratic. A good story
transcends race and culture because comics, unlike other forms of entertainment, are a personal experience. The superhero is a mythological construct unique to American society
and the backbone of the American comic book industry. The superhero is the construct of immigrants, people from different cultures coming together to form a new nation where the unique attribute of each culture contributes to greater whole. African American superheroes are as important as African Americans in the tapestry of this country. As, arguably, the first immigrants (other
than British and French) of America, African Americans were, initially left out of the equation when constructing the superhero myth and were relegated to supporting roles.
With the Black Panther’s appearance in 1966’s Fantastic Four #52,African Americans were introduced into the “mainstream” consciousness of superhero myth. As an African American, my work taps into the folklore, mythology and history of the African Diaspora to give my characters and stories depth and substance. As an educator, I have seen that comics foster reading comprehension. The combination of images and text aids the developing mind’s ability to grasp not only the mechanics of spelling and language, but complex ideas and viewpoints as well. In addition, comics can be an effective delivery system for lessons and concepts in all subjects. My work examines the root of the superhero, mythology, thereby taking an esoteric approach to the genre. Mythology allows me to craft a story featuring people with abilities that though they use those powers for good, they are still subjected to the same feelings and frustrations we all have living in these modern times.
The worlds I create are populated with characters from multiple cultures, which reflects our diverse reality. From my original creations
like The Horsemen to The Song of Lionogo which I developed for the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, I create positive visions of heroes of various ethnicities performing amazing feats of courage
and bravery, instilling a sense of wonder and pride to the viewer.
My work is defined by pop culture. From Alphonse Mucha to Frank Frazetta, from comic books and animation to “Grindhouse” films, these “low-brow” creations sparked my imagination. Their bold and shameless design and marketing aesthetic inspire the way that I make images and bring my message to the masses… And they are a lot of fun.
It’s my desire to share this philosophy and vision with Chicago’s Greater Grand Crossing Branch Library. I look forward to the opportunity to working with your organization.
Jiba Molei Anderson, MFA
JIBA MOLEI ANDERSON
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