Jalynn McDuffey attended Seeking a Better Community after school programs as a child. As a teen, she wanted to give back so she created art classes there called Heart for Art for her Girl Scout Gold Award.
“I started with art classes and that was going to be my project,” she says.
The classes focused on Pre-K through second grade students. She wrote lesson plans. She paid for art supplies. She taught the classes.
She taught classes in Summer 2019 and she started to teach again in Summer 2020 but then COVID cases started spiking. That caused the summer program to shut down. She was worried about the kids so she sent them home with art supplies so they could continue to create.
“The kids were asking, when are you coming back?” she says. “All the kids would be going home and I wouldn’t be able to teach because of COVID.”
She wanted to continue the art that could inspire other children like it inspired her. She decided to see if she could create murals, hoping that her murals could inspire children.
“That was what inspired me to create art,” she says.
So far, she’s created two murals. One at the Little Disciples Pre-School and one at the Miami-Bridge that she completed in May.
That mural is two hands grasping and creating a bridge of togetherness, camaraderie and trust.
She worked with the boys at the Miami-Bridge, teaching them color theory and giving the hints about painting.
“I taught these boys how to make the mural,” she says.
Her personal work focuses on portraits and historical events or fact that have to do with the Civil Rights Movement or the history of Black people in America.
“I feature my family and friends, and significant figures across the community, but mostly family and friends connected to large topics,” she says. “What I like to focus on is the micro and macro of being a Black American. To show the struggle Black people faced.”
She connects their everyday existence to history.
“The way we wear our hair, the way we eat is connected to our history. That’s what I focused on,” she says.
Her preferred medium is acrylic paints on hardboard panels.
She took a chance switching to portraits – the summer before junior year, she says she grabbed her brother and asked to take a picture of him.
“And I started painting. That’s one of the best risks I’ve ever taken in my life,” she says.
She is a U.S. Presidential Scholar of the Arts, A YoungArts Finalist, a Scholastic Gold Key winner, an AP Scholar for 2020, and she has earned Girl Scout Gold Award.
Her work has been featured in the Coral Reef literary magazine and she won second prize for art portfolio in a literary journal from Columbia Journal.
Next year she’ll attend Florida AM University. Her parents both attended FL A & M. She plans to major in broadcast journalism and become a news reporter.
At the same time, she’s continuing her quest to bring art to children. She will continue to raise money for art education.
“For kids like me who grew up with this love for art that was never fulfilled by the education system,” she says. “Art is a possibility and it can lead to great things. I want to give other kids a bright future.”
At Coral Reef she played basketball her freshman and sophomore year, she was a member of the Black Student Union and she was involved in the National Art Honor Society.