A Peek at Self-Discovery with Jheyda McGarrell

Inside our chat with the fearless documentary photographer and Art Hoe Collective curator.

Have you ever met someone who inspires you to dig a little deeper into yourself and your purpose just by being around them a few minutes? Well, Jheyda McGarrell is that kind of person. At only 20 years of age, her fearless pursuit of honest expression and creativity is radically unmatched. Her document style photography tell stories of self-discovery, representation, and community in the queer POC world. A curator for Art Hoe Collective, Jheyda’s work helps build the mold of a growing legion of young artists who are flipping the bird to traditional standards and paving their own path with pride. We talked it up about her current solo show Dolce Far Niente and the importance of trusting your own gut.

Opening night at Dolce Far Niente, courtesy of Jheyda McGarrell

What was the initial inspiration behind your show, Dolce Far Niente?

It was kind of a team thought. Chelsea came to me after we had the Art Hoe show at Leiminspace and was like “I really like your photography and think you should have a show here”. I really didn’t know what I would be doing and I was just in this transitional phase in my life. As the year went by, I felt like my year started off with this initial stage of death and rebirth and a lot of changing perceptions on myself and things outside of myself.

As time passed I noticed a sequence happen in my life where a series of bad things were happening and me not allowing myself to process, and then a series of very peaceful moments.

When did you begin to piece together the work that you would end up featuring?

It was a combination of documentary and pose photography. I am a documentary photographer by nature, so during the time I was taking photos of my life as things were happening around me. Late May and early June, I took a lot more photos specifically for the show.

What would you say to other young creatives and anyone who is looking to express what’s inside of them and how to pursue that with confidence and intention?

They need to sit down with themselves and think about it. I think if we all take time to think about things and why we’re doing them we find our purpose. And our reason.

I think I would want them to self-reflect and if it’s really something that they’re passionate about, anything is possible. If you really believe that, why wouldn’t you believe that you can’t do anything that you want? Who’s to say that you can’t do anything you want?

I have really bad anxiety, so I get it. But it has to become something that is second nature. Even now, I’m in school and I get anxiety showing work in class. But I think if we just talk to ourselves and believe in ourselves then we can really do everything with the intention of spreading self-awareness and goodness.

“I think if we all take time to think about things and why we’re doing them, we find our purpose.”

Opening night at Dolce Far Niente, courtesy of Jheyda McGarrell

You’re part of Art Hoe Collective which pushes a lot of amazing art and ideas into a space that really needs it. Has being part of this helped you in having community support and people to learn from and share with?

I think it’s been one of the most beautiful and healing forces in my life. Because I think that it’s sense of community and having people that you view as your family and friends really allows you to become who you are. And when you have community, you don’t wish evil upon people. You can have forgiveness, love, and understanding in this space. And you can have a space that’s safe to grow in and participate in as your true self.

When we have events its really beautiful to meet kids that are 15 and like “I’m queer but I haven’t told my mom and I just want to make art, but they just want me to be a doctor” and I’ve been through the same thing. “You’re not going to be 30 living that life”. It’s in these spaces where we can find forgiveness for people that might have treated us wrong in the past because we are just humans. And being that they’re raised in different generations, they don’t understand that what they’re doing is wrong.

The closing reception of Dolce Far Niente is happening this Saturday, July 21st with a panel beginning at 5pm. Check here for updates. 

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