We had the good fortune of connecting with Constance Jaquay Strickland and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Constance Jaquay, why did you pursue a creative career?
I can’t trace an exact reason why and perhaps why I’m unable to, is deep down in my gut I know it was a feeling that riddled through my bones back in my childhood that would leave me with no choice but to tell stories with my body. I also believe my artistic career was the answer to quiet prayers I spoke aloud to the universe, alone in the dark. As I have no answers as I witness my beloved mother begin to experience cognitive decline. I did not have the tools to help my childhood best friend as she lay in a hospital room after trying to take her own life. I could not release nor speak clear words as I watched a mother wrap a blanket around the body of her only child as they slept on the streets. I still am unable to assist an old friend now addicted to heroin and living on the streets despite being loved by so many. So I learned to use my body as a vehicle to tell the stories of women who often go unseen, women whose stories are often not met with empathy. My work comes from the same place prayer does. It is personal and communal. It makes room for healing. It allows one the opportunity to connect with themselves and others through movement and what I hope is one finds a better understanding of what it means to be human and new ways to take action in their neighborhoods; in whatever capacity they are able.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art practice shifts with the seasons, making the choice of the medium holy. It is ritual, it is sacred. I gather natural materials to manifest new clues in the work. I honor the shift that occurs within my body as well as my mind, reminding me that as I flow so does my work. As a physical movement artist, my work is a rigorous, physical exploration of how trauma, grief, and joy live simultaneously inside the body. My work has a heavily concentrated focus on seeking to find ways for one to enter healing. Often after one goes through the trauma they don’t have a complete opportunity to heal the whole self. More often than not trauma is passed down from one generation to the next. Allowing the body and mind to confront old memories makes way for focused healing throughout the body, spirit, and mind that can make room for one to live a healthy life. I work as an interdisciplinary artist using photography, performance, movement, film, and sound as the mediums that bring my work to life. These mediums coexist as essential elements within my work; being aware of the invisible as to make it visible ties the work to time and energy, which are huge clues in how I approach my work. I’ve had to fight to not have my past hijack my present to continue to build and produce work when I had no place to sleep at night nor did I have food to fill my belly. Those long days and hard nights existing in the unknown taught me perseverance and endurance. I’ve had to make my own road as a non-traditional independent artist when there were no opportunities for artists outside academic institutions. I’m proud to have found ways to continue as well as expand my art practice not only over the past year but throughout the past few years I’ve been able to experiment, investigate and discover my authentic voice as an artist. I’m a grassroots artist whose work is manifested by the residual history and current issues that directly affect the women of Los Angeles. The central thesis of my life’s work is exploring women and mental health and how uplifting them uplifts our communities
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes from Little Dom’s but the prices are getting high so make them if you can!
The Line Hotel Lobby bar for original cocktails and wonderful Mixologists / if you’re in Koreatown.
Vintage shopping at Pickwick Vintage so timing is important on when the BFF arrives!
Local Eso Won Bookstore in Inglewood
Always a must is a beach day at Point Dume
A whole gallery hopping day:
Wilding Cran Gallery
Kayne Griffin Cochran
Ballet Class is a must for that free-spirited friend willing to go outside their box!
Pastrami Sandwich, Egg bacon, or a Chicago Style Hotdog at Astro burger is always in memory of my dear friend Nick Utley who passed away.
Sage for your BFF that just turned Vegan …….
Always catch a theatre play in Los Angeles-where you will find fearless, bold, and brave artists doing wonderful work in the most unexpected spaces—go beyond the spaces you only hear about – for there are fantastic shows that exist, will exist, and are finding ways to exist. Think Broadway, Off-Broadway Off-Off-Broadway exists right here in Los Angeles.
Salt N’ Straw no debating on this—- they do it best!
A day drives up to Ojai for wonderful vintage shopping at Enid & Edgar’s, a beach stop with the best rocks existing right on the edge of the water, and of course if you arrive early enough on the right day you can get Kate’s Bread!
****Now all of this is when it is safe to do so and while still wearing a mask to protect all of our essential worker’s and elders
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Nai Nai! Nailia Aladdin-Sanders. An artist. A storyteller. A mother. A grandmother. A wife. A giver. A teacher. A mentor. When I arrived in Los Angeles I had never had a Black teacher. A Black woman teacher at that! Nai Nai was a gift on many levels to that young Black girl all those years ago. Love her forever and ever. Always honoring Naila Aladdin-Sanders. Nai wears many hats as an artist: Costume designer, Collage artist, Fashion artist, Materials artist and has worked for theatre companies throughout Los Angeles. Nai Nai gave me love when I was existing in Los Angeles on my own and it made all the difference to my spirit.
Francisco Montenegro photo credit