Exert from, "Meet the artist behind Oak Park’s new billboard. Jessica Wimbley talks her ‘Masking Up’ series" by BY MARCUS D. SMITH, MAY 25, 2021 Sacramento Bee
Jessica Wimbley’s appreciation for the arts began at three years old when her mother, an art enthusiast, introduced her. Now, Wimbley’s “Masking Series” will be displayed digitally at Arden Fair mall and on a billboard overlooking the Oak Park neighborhood.
The “Your Actions Save Lives” campaign with the California Department of Public Health fuses public health messages with original art from local artists. Wimbley’s project focuses on the importance of masks, specifically highlighting and representing communities of color.
Originally from Barrington, Illinois, Jessica Wimbley now resides in Sacramento. Her art has been featured in museums and institutions across the country. Wimbley spoke to The Sacramento Bee about the meaning of her artistic expressions and her partnership with the state of California.
A: I work in an interdisciplinary manner, which means that I work in different mediums. I paint, shoot photography, drying, and video. I actually pull my work from this idea called the biomythography, a term coined by poet, activist, and feminist Audrey Lorde. It’s a combination of biography, history, and myth.
Q: You were selected for a partnership with the California Department of Health to target communities disproportionately impacted by COVID, can you talk about your approach to this project?
A: I think it’s an important opportunity, communicating and messaging to people the importance of masking, getting vaccinated, washing your hands, and maintaining a social distance. My inspiration was the African tradition of the Masquerade. In particular, if you look at Europa Coletti, they’re concerned with communicating with the community and agreeing on the appropriate behavior. It’s a way for me to reflect on our history and ancestors, to move forward in a positive way.
Q: How much of your art is inspired by your heritage and your identity as a Black woman?
A: My billboard in Oak Park features my husband. I’m pulling from my personal experiences, I’m pulling from my family history. The images you see are me creating and reflecting myself, my family, my husband. It was important for me to represent a Black male figure with love. We’ve seen so much violence towards black men, I wanted to be able to also show black men with love.