Artistic Voice and Representation with Jazzmin Imani Cox-Caceres ’19

Leila Jackson ’22

How can we represent the underrepresented? What constitutes good representation in art? How can we represent groups of people in the most comprehensive way possible, showing depth and ranges of experience? In both my own creative journey and when studying others’ art, I have run into these questions often, and they never seem to have just one answer; the incorporation of artistic voice into representation can create a myriad of different products. This idea is at the core of Jazzmin Imani Cox-Caceres’ work.

Jazzmin graduated from the GDS High School in 2019 and is currently pursuing a BA in Visual Arts and Psychology at Brown University. She is driven and dedicated to using her artistic talent and voice to depict Black women as holistically as possible—“not only as subjects,” she explained, “but also looking at our experiences and how that can be woven into the work that I’m creating.” Most recently, she displayed work as part of the Brown University’s Black Arts Showcase and was also selected as a finalist for the AXA Art Prize, one of the leading student art competitions in the United States. Her piece “Sound of Da Police” will be displayed in a group gallery at the New York Academy of Arts in November.

I had the chance to talk with Jazzmin this summer, and hearing about her journey in and beyond GDS was truly inspiring. Coming to GDS High School from the Middle School, she had a chance to work with Michelle Cobb (art teacher and chair of the GDS Visual Arts department) one-on-one before classes even started. Michelle helped Jazzmin discover her love for oil painting and build up her passion for visual arts, developing her own creative mind and artistic voice. “She pushed me to paint what I was passionate about,” Jazzmin remembered.

Jazzmin also found a home in the art studio. “I was surrounded by students who were very passionate about art,” she said, describing how she was able to connect with other art students and learn from each others’ differing techniques and topics. She recalls learning from—and being inspired by—GDS alumna artists she overlapped with, including Mai-han Nyguen ’17 and Savannah Wade ’17.

For Jazzmin’s Senior Quest, she wrote, illustrated and published a children’s picture book, When Art Is Loved. I had the joy of reading it as a ninth grader and seeing firsthand how it delves into and explores the transformative power and inherent beauty of art come to life through the eyes of a Black girl. Her ability to convey such powerful ideas through her art wouldn’t have been possible without the mentorship and environment she experienced at GDS: “I’m really grateful to what I learned at GDS and how that allowed for the expansion to happen after graduating”, she recounted.

Beyond GDS, Jazzmin is continuing to grow her body of work around her central focus to represent Black women in authentic experiences of pain, joy, and everything in between. She’s been able to experiment with scale and mixed media, as well as test more complicated concepts with complex layering and fine detail work. 

Jazzmin’s journey, and her commitment to her central theme, are an inspiration to creators in all media types. Her insistence upon—and dedication to—holistic representation align with what I hope to accomplish with my own creative work one day. “One thing that I’m very proud of as an artist is that I’ve had a consistent message,” Jazzmin said. “My goals have always been the same and they will continue to be the same.”

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You can support Jazzmin by circulating her name and also by visiting her website https://www.jazzminimani.com/ and her Instagram (@jazzminimani).

Leila Jackson ’22 is a rising senior at GDS High School. She is the head of the Writer’s Workbench club at school and has published several pieces in various literary journals. In her free time, she enjoys poetry and boba tea.