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Check Out JJ Jiang’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to JJ Jiang. 

Hi JJ, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today? 

My childhood was spent in China during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). During that era of madness, drawing, writing, and reading poetry kept me safe and sane and shielded me from the chaotic world outside. Drawing and painting have become inseparable parts of my life. They came to me naturally (and early) and have helped shape my view of the world and myself to a large degree. 

I was trained as an architect and architectural historian with professional degrees from both the US and China. I practiced architecture as well as taught architectural design and history. As a fine artist, I draw my inspiration from both my eastern and western cultural roots, as well as my inquisitive mind and inner poetry. I excel in drawing, watercolor, and oil painting while exploring subjects such as still life, landscape/cityscape, portrait and figure, Chinese calligraphy, and brush painting. My work has been widely exhibited, collected, and has won many awards. 

Creating art is a solitary endeavor. However, for art to reach the public and benefit the community, the artist must be willing to step out of their cocoon. This is the reason I opened the Village Art Circle eight years ago on April 1, 2013, in Ashworth Village in downtown Cary, NC. Over its years, the Village Art Circle exhibited the works of over 40 member artists from around the Triangle and further developed the relationship between artists and the greater community. We joined hands with local groups and the Town of Cary to bolster arts in our community. We held monthly featured shows highlighting our members. In addition, we held annual juried shows, fund-raising exhibitions for charities, art critiques, and a variety of classes and workshops. 

Currently, the Village Art Circle is used as a gallery and is also my working studio where you can find me painting most days as well as teaching. Beyond the creation of art, sharing my creative passion for it through teaching has been an integral part of my journey for years. My open and inspiring instruction has been welcomed and much appreciated by students who often return season after season. Besides offering weekly classes in watercolor and oil painting at my studio, I teach workshops at a variety of venues. 

My wife and I have been residents of Cary for 24 years and have raised two children (and one dog)! 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome? 

Two major challenges come to mind right away. One – the conflict of using the time to either manage and promote a business or to advance my art. For example, using social media platforms for self-promotion can time consuming with dubious results. Managing the business itself has taken a lot of time to both learn and do well. 

Two – the uncertainty or tremendous risk inherent in running a business as an artist to make a living. There is no guaranteed paycheck but rather, only the certainty of spending (taxes, insurance, rent, etc.). This risk was really highlighted by the pandemic when the VAC had to close its doors for over a year. Classes were immediately canceled and many were refunded. We are only just beginning to offer sessions again. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on? 

My paintings have been juried into four of our nation’s prestigious national and international competitions: Oil Painters of America (OPA), NWS (National Watercolor Society), AWS (American Watercolor Society), and American Impressionist Society (AIS). This places me in a very select group of artists and reveals my outstanding artistry as well as skill and versatility in both oil and watercolor, and with differing subjects. My work has won numerous awards and has been widely collected. It has been featured in publications such as Watercolor Artist Magazine, SPLASH 21, The Art of Watercolour magazine, and Southwest Art Magazine. My artistic strengths include solid training and skill in drawing and understanding of perspective, my cultural and historical understanding (broad view) due to my life background, and my ability to teach and approach my teaching both intellectually and poetically. 

What matters most to you? Why? 

This is a hard question to answer!  There are many aspects of life matter greatly to me, things like my physical and mental healthy, my family and friends…, since  I have chosen to live my life through art, there are two obvious answers that come to mind — first, to become the best artist that I can be,  to fulfill and realize the potential the nature bestowed on me.  With that being said, I know it is almost impossible to know what the best means. Secondly, I hope to have a positive influence in the world around me through my art and my teaching of art.

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