Today we’d like to introduce you to Allegra Jones.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Allegra. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born and raised south of San Francisco in a part of the Silicon Valley called Los Altos. My mom is Italian-American and my dad is Black. I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember and playing music since I was six. Drawing and music were always my largest sources of joy and peace growing up. I eventually decided to combine the two by studying Experimental Animation at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). I graduated in 2018 and now continue to create animation, drawing, painting, & music in addition to being an arts educator. These practices are all linked for me. Most times, when I’m animating, I absolutely have to start with the music & sound first in order for the visual ideas to come alive. I also sing in a two-member band called Dovestone with my friend Anja. We are both painters & fold our visual art practices into this performance project. I am currently participating in an artist residency at Five Car Garage Gallery entitled “Research on the Racial Mirror” which will culminate in a solo art show in early September. I plan to incorporate many of my different art forms into this body of work. (Besides performance due to COVID).
Has it been a smooth road?
There have definitely been bumps along the way, I’ll highlight my bumpy road to art school here. Out of high school, I immediately entered Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to study graphic design. It was not my first choice of where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do, but art school was entirely off the table in my family when I was applying in high school. In the Silicon Valley, there is a massive cultural pressure on excelling academically and making money. Pursuing art as a career was entirely out of the norm of my family and group of peers. After experiencing recurrent racism at Cal Poly, the kind that I was not used to in the liberal bubble of the Silicon Valley I grew up in, I knew it was time for a change. I decided I needed to be in an environment that I wanted to be in, one where I felt like I belonged. At the time, I was doing what was expected of me but neglecting my own voice.
During my first year of Cal Poly, I ended up applying to CalArts and not telling anyone outside of a few friends about the application until I got accepted into the school. Initially, I was met with anger from my family when I told them, but they ended up slowly shifting gears and warmed up little by little to the idea once they visited the campus. Strangely enough, I still consider applying to CalArts the best decision I ever made in my life. I learned something important about trusting my intuition and the power we have to change our situation for the better. I do not regret any of my time spent at Cal Poly however. I do not even regret the racism I experienced there because it helped anchor me into my dedication for Black diaspora studies, which is quite a crucial element to my art practice and daily life.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am very passionate about uplifting underserved communities through the arts. For the last six years, I’ve been working for Community Arts Partnership (CAP) as an animation instructor at Center for the Arts Eagle Rock. We offer free animation and art classes to middle school youth after school here and in a handful of other locations. Kids need a place where they can just be themselves and express themselves without added pressure. I love fostering these types of environments. As someone who taught in an LAUSD middle school as a fine arts teacher, I know how underfunded and under-appreciated the arts are in LA public schools.
In fact, I lost my job at as a teacher in LAUSD because they decided to entirely cut all arts programs at this specific middle school. Not just fine arts but drama, dance, & music. The school could not fund us anymore & could barely do so before the cut. This experience made me appreciate programs like CAP even more than I already had because free after school arts programs help fill a great hole in our communities. What kids need now more than ever is the permission to unleash their creativity & the human connection that art can provide. I plan on continuing my pedagogy virtually in the coming year.
I also take commissions for portraits, art pieces, animation, etc. and will be open for more commissions in September.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I absolutely love the diversity here in Los Angeles. It is my number one favorite part of the city. After living in Europe for a while, I realized that we do not see this type of diversity everywhere. This diversity is why cities like New York and LA make such a gigantic impact on culture throughout our whole world. Our ability to not just tolerate but connect meaningfully with others across our different backgrounds. To learn from each other. One of my least favorite parts about our city is the underlying tone of superficiality, materialism, & careerism that LA is famous for. However, if you make it a point to not involve with this tone, you will attract incredible, authentic, genuine gems into your world. Los Angeles is magical in that way. I absolutely hate the helicopters here though, real talk, hate them.
- Website: allegrajones.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org