Jordan Casteel is a New York based painter who represents black men from her community through her paintings. Casteel received her BA in Studio Art from Agnes Scott College and MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale School (Casteel). In 2011, she received a stipend to study landscape painting from Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia in Italy. During that time, Trayvon Martin, an African American child was killed by the police and Casteel being the only person of color felt isolated in Cortona, Italy. Casteel had a conversation with her twin brother and he told her about his experience as black man in public settings,“People follow me like I’m a threat,” the artist remembers her brother saying, “but they don’t know anything about me” (Art21, 2017).
Casteel returned to Yale and drew inspiration from “the multiplicity of Black male experience; she began with nudes in domestic interiors before expanding to men on the sidewalk, the color and compositions celebrating the visual texture of her Harlem neighborhood.” (Art21, 2017).
Casteels’ paintings represent her black community who experience discrimmation due to social injustice like racism, gentrification, and police violence. Jordan, stated, “Black men are perceived differently in this world”. In her paintings, she humanizes and beautifully represents her community and tells their story so the world can know black men from her community. .
Art21. (2017). Jordan Casteel Paints Her Community. Retrieved from
Casteel, Jordan. (2020) Jordan Casteel, Bio. Retrieved from http://www.jordancasteel.com/
I find community art to be wholesome. When artists create with the community it nourishes humanity.
During my undergrad, I interned for a nonprofit art organization. This was my first endeavor with public art and community outreach. The organization curated art installations in Atlantic City, NJ. I lived and worked in Atlantic City and saw casinos were closing down. Many locals told me they felt hopeless. However, Atlantic City locals and artists came together to brighten up the city with art giving the city a feeling of empowerment. I was a young art student at the time but felt overwhelmed by the positive impact of public art.
After the internship, I knew that I wanted to paint for a purpose. I began collaborating with arts organizations making murals. I was interested in working in my community, specifically POC and Latinx living low-income areas. I want to provide art that empowers and represents the beauty of my community.
La Vida Colorida mural is one of my most proud community art projects. While teaching in Mexico, the students and I made a mural that reflected native ocean life. Many of their parents worked on boats, they were fishermen and whale shark guides. The students and the locals living in the area felt represented and had a sense of pride. The local kids designed and painted the mural that expressed their story of living in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
Before I jump in, let me explain the purpose of “The Artist as Teacher Blog”. For the past two years, I’ve been teaching Art at a middle school in upper north Philadelphia. I started attending Moore College so I can better serve the students. This blog is inspired by one of the courses, Engaging Students in Community Art.
These journal entries are for me to reflect and share my thoughts, questions, ideas, feelings about being an artist, a teacher, and a student.