Jeremy "JAH Sunny" Johnson-LeMieux – An Odyssey of a Revolutionary Artist by Kojo Sankofa for Afrocult Media Foundation. June 2012
Wayne State University graduate Jeremy Johnson-LeMieux a.k.a. JAH Sunny is endowed with extraordinary talent as a visual artist allowing him to produce incredibly organic and mind-blowing portraits, landscapes and patterns. He has endeared himself to the hearts of many art enthusiasts and critics with his impressionable dynamic pieces that depict his deep passion and understanding of life’s journey.
Sunny a student of World art and culture has carved a niche for himself as a great portrait artist heavily influenced by the traditions of Afro-Caribbean, 19th Century European portraiture, Islamic and Hindu art. Artists like Kehinde Wiley, Ras Daniel Hartman, Neville Garrick, Manet, Sargent, Malik Sidibe and Wengechi Mutu have been major influences. His portraits reside in the Rastafari Archives in LA, several Parishes of Jamaica, the villages on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, Dogon country Mali and Jakarta Indonesia as well as many homes around the United States.
In an interview with Jeremy, he pointed out that “Creating art has become for me a quiet devotion where I can express my love for the people who influence my life and for the natural order of creation. Nature is often surrounding my subjects because for me, nature is the most perfect expression of creation by the mysterious and mystical Divine Creator”. Jeremy’s artwork emanates from his deep belief in natural order and spiritual law. Life has been an absolute adventure for Jeremy; he spent 2 years living outside in the forest on a 20 acre nature preserve in Ann Arbor Michigan including several winters in a wood stove heated tree house. He is unequivocally one of the finest young emerging artists on the Detroit scene who is poised to fill in the shoes of great revolutionary artists not just in Detroit but around the globe
His stunning art pieces depicts his deep passion to use his paintbrush and pencils to convey life in an utterly remarkable way. People are a constant subject in his art, people who he loves and respects. Some of his portraits are of his elders, many of who belong to the local Detroit Rasta community. He loves to show them radiating wisdom and strength which he hopes the viewer can draw positive energy from. He underscored his respect for religious icons like Senegalese Mouride art of Amadou Bamba or Ethiopian Orthodox art underlying his uttermost desire to have blessing power to his art a form of baraka. Sunny further stated, “I would like the spiritual devotion I feel when creating my art to bestow divine blessing power onto the viewer. Although I don’t belong to a specific religion I love religious expression especially in art. I feel captivated by images of Haile Selassie I, the catholic saints, the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses, allegorical, mythological, biblical paintings which like good music, teaches us something. I don’t believe in the statement that realistic paintings only show physical reality. For the paintings of the old masters they presented a reality brimming with spiritual energy and life. Even a domestic scene by Vermeer or a landscape by Church exuded emotion and a touch of the divine a camera cannot”
He seeks to illustrate a spiritual likeness of the people he draws and paints. He intimates that creating art the way he does requires a quiet, patient mind. he spent years learning meditation techniques from different traditions such as Self-Realization, Coptic Christianity, Islam, Rastafari, Zen Buddhism and Peruvian Shamanism.
He utilizes most of his attention in perfecting his drawing techniques, primarily with graphite or pen and ink because he believes that will be the foundation for a switch in focus from drawing to serious painting. Through drawing he has explored human anatomy, ideas of shade and tone, and trusting his eye. “If I can perfect my drawing technique I believe I will have an invaluable tool in expressing what I see in my head on canvas or paper” he said.
After high school in the mid 90’s Sunny spent long months traveling on the American road with little or no money, sleeping in the wilderness and feeling total trust that he would always be safe and fed. He ventured outside due to deep personal revelations on the folly of mans disconnection with nature. He asserts that “For most of humanity’s existence we have lived close to land and sea until the beginning of the industrial revolution. Modern man has become like a guitar or piano that is desperately out of tune. Spending time in nature will tune you back to a natural well being and centered state of mind." Sunny was on an odyssey, an adventure which he says left an enormous impression on his life as a youth. He relates his conviction on how much time and energy the modern person wastes trying to acquire money and material things when in actuality there is a disconnect with nature that depresses the human spirit. Most people are unaware of this disfunction. While living outside Sunny started to feel rejuvenated and inspired by the passage of seasons and phases of the moon. “I have a romantic interest in the world before the 20th century, before electricity and concrete, technology and so called modern world conveniences. I imagine the earth when it was a healthy living being covered in the glory of creation. This interest ties into my fascination with old world culture such as religions, rituals, language, art, music and food”.
Jeremy "JAH Sunny" Johnson-LeMieux is a unique artist i think you will immensely enjoy!
Afrocult Media Foundation
-Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wayne State University, Detroit Michigan USA 2012
-Minor in Art History (Concentration on art of Africa)
-Associates Degree in Graphic Design from Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor Michigan USA 2002