Jodye Beard-Brown is both an artist and fashion entrepreneur. Jodye's beautiful work and iconic subjects inspire both art lovers and fashion enthusiasts alike. This former Paris fashion model has worked with some of the greatest designers and fashion icons of our generation. Jodye's work is inspired by the social justice movements of the USA. Her choice of art subjects not only inspire change and hope but make an indelible mark on our own social conscience.
Jodye, welcome to Moonflower Art!
Thank you so much for the opportunity!
Your artwork is truly awe-inspiring and beautiful!
Thank you so much!
Your journey is a fascinating one. From model to artist to fashion entrepreneur? How does each role inform the other?
It’s been an incredible journey and an interesting one because none of these things were planned, especially the modeling. My dream was to go to New York City when I graduated high school and dance with a company like Alvin Alley or on Broadway. Unfortunately in my senior year I was broadsided by a drunk driver leaving a basketball game that I had just cheered at. I was driving alone in my little used (but new to me) car. The driver wasn’t going very fast but didn’t slow down at all. I was in the hospital for three weeks and out of school for two months. I had fractured my pelvis in three places and had a hematoma from a torn liver and bruised heart. I was released from the hospital in a wheelchair, and I had to learn to walk again using a walker.
As a form of motivation to walk again, my mother entered me into a Miss Young Texas Pageant. I told no one about, it was just me and my mom. Well… out of 100 girls, I won that pageant, and I was approached by two judges who were modeling agents in Houston. I decided to sign with Neal Hamil agency, and I still graduated on time with my class.
When one door closes another one opens and seven months after graduating from high school, I was off to Paris, France to give modeling a try.
My first show was for Chanel, I was chosen by the one and only Karl Lagerfeld for the pret-a-porter press show in 1986. That year turned into eight years total in Europe. I lived 6 years in Paris and two years in London. It was a wonderful time to be coming of age.
My mindset was I wanted to learn the French language regardless of whether my modeling career worked or not. And if I could return to the states fluent in French, I didn’t waste my time! I learned the bulk of my French working as a Mannequin de cabin (house model) for Yves Saint Laurent. Little did I know then that working for one of the greatest colorist and designers in the fashion world would plant a seed in my heart for color and texture later to show up in my own artwork.
During my final year in Paris, I began taking drawing and painting classes with Les Atelier des Beaux Arts, a few times a week. When I returned to the USA, I continued to paint, to improve my skills and later began to show my work in coffee shops and small venues.
What inspires and motivates your beautiful and diverse themes?
Life, music, people! Often I’m creating paintings of people and things that I love, and it’s fantastic that others seem to love these same things. I want my work to also inspire or be informative and convey an important message.
The subjects that inspire your work are iconic! From Martin Luther King to Jimi Hendrix to Frida. What impact have these extraordinary human beings had on your own life and work?
All of these individuals I admire and I’m so grateful for the legacy that they have left behind. Martin Luther King is one of my most painted people. I’ve painted him four times within the last five years. He represents Hope to me and I believe to others as well. These last few years I’ve wanted to communicate: “Be hopeful, hang in there, we will get through this together.” He is a perfect reminder of this and so many other positive attributes. The quote by John Lewis comes to mind and is perfect: “We have come a long way in America because of Martin Luther King, Jr. He led a disciplined, nonviolent revolution under the rule of law, a revolution of values, a revolution of ideas. We've come a long way, but we still have a distance to go before all of our citizens embrace the idea of a truly interracial democracy, what I like to call the Beloved Community, a nation at peace with itself.” I used this quote when I shared my last painting of Martin Luther King “We Shall Overcome.”
Jimi Hendrix is so legendary. I painted him along with five other musicians Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, and Billie Holiday -- all legendary and unfortunately all died too young! I was raised with diverse music and want young people to know about it, and older people to remember it through my art.
Frida Kahlo is such an iconic representation of beauty, strength, and determination! Her accomplishments during a time when there were so few women in the art field is truly extraordinary. She is my most painted artist and hands down my MOST painted person…I just can’t get her out of my system (laugh). I have to remind myself there are more subjects and people out there to paint!
Your wearable art is quite extraordinary too. How did this journey begin and how has it evolved?
When I had the opportunity to put my designs on clothing, it felt completely natural to explore art and fashion together! Le Galeriste saw my work on Instagram and reached out to me via email. After reading about the company, their sustainable products and then experiencing the great quality, firsthand -- it seemed like a no brainer to me. I enjoy working with the graphic designers to showcase my artwork. It’s so unique and fun! It’s truly like wearing a painting, it’s wearable art! I came up with my own tag line “It’s Art So COOL you WANT to Wear it!”
It’s been about two years and I love how my work is evolving and the company is also growing, giving me more opportunities to do even more with my wearable art! I plan to travel to Montreal this summer to meet the Le Galeriste team and to experience where the magic happens!
Your mosaic work is fascinating. What inspires this work?
I started with painting but I was intrigued with mosaics so I taught myself how to do them. I was really enjoying creating mosaics and for a while I was only making mosaics, but then I would create a painting again and I felt like I was cheating (laugh). This went on for a several years and about three years ago I had a lightbulb moment. I decided to paint on wood instead of the traditional mosaic material. This is a perfect way to use both and it really feels like me too! It’s like I’ve finally found my artist thumb print!
The subject for these works varies from portraits of Frida with mosaic flowers in her hair, to faces that were inspired by the Henri Matisse black and white drawings.
Where have you showcased your work?
The most exciting place to have shared my work was this year at the Houston Intercontinental Airport for Black History Month! It was so awesome to share my work with many travelers, but I think what was even more rewarding was experiencing the excitement that others shared with me!
I also did a collaboration for Kendra Scott at the Baybrook Mall store, were I created a painting of Frida wearing the spring collection Kendra Scott earrings. Twenty percent of the sales during a four-day period went to my charity of choice. I have done a few pop ups which is great for sharing art and especially my wearable art. I have shown work at coffee houses such as Art of Coffee, Starbucks, and Epoch Coffee in Austin Texas. I have also participated and shared my work in group shows such as Raw Artist Houston, Conception Art and The Raising Tide.
Are there any other artistic pursuits that interest you and that you would like to explore?
In 2018, I was chosen to collaborate with a Hurricane Harvey recovery project with The Red Cross called Spark Academy. Using art and play therapy-based curriculum for children who were experiencing trauma as an after math of the hurricane, we were able to provide healing to kids from kindergarten through 5th grade. I felt very passionate and fortunate to be able to help kids overcome trauma through art. Art is an expression that is powerful. It has the ability to educate, heal, and beautify all at once! I don’t take being called an artist lightly. It is something I feel called to do.
Last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was thankfully detected early during my annual mammogram, making it early-stage cancer! Being a Breast Cancer Thriver, I would like to use my art to educate, inform, and inspire women on cancer prevention. My butterfly painting was the first painting I created during that time. It’s called I CAN (crossing the cer OUT). I wear it proudly.
Any upcoming shows or other events that you would like our readers to know about?
I am working on a few commissions at the moment and I plan to return to West Elm in Rice Village on Rice University in Houston for a few pop ups this summer. I am also creating pieces that I hope to have on display as a complete work in the near future.
To view more of Jodye's work, please visit her instagram at https://www.instagram.com/jbeard_art/
Le Galeriste fashion page at https://www.legaleriste.com/en/jodye.beard-brown