Community Voices Blog: Staff Art Picks

We are so excited to announce our newest series on the JAC Blog: Community Voices. Through this new blog series, we will be highlighting stories, insights, and reflections from across the JAC network of teaching artists, volunteers, interns, staff and our wonderful audience and supporters. We are so grateful to have such a passionate and diverse community and we hope this new series will encourage dialogue, sharing, and connection. 

For our first Community Voices blog, we asked members of the JAC team to share one of their favorite pieces from our artist network. Here’s what they had to say!

Joshua Earls

“I can’t pick just one favorite because there are way too many incredible artists and artworks to choose from, but one of my favorite pieces is Joshua Earls’ ‘I Am From’ poem. When I joined the JAC team back in June, this is one of the first pieces I had the pleasure of interacting with so it has really stuck with me. Both the words themselves and the visuals are so beautiful. It’s emotional and inspirational. Just all around really lovely.” ~Joslyn, JAC Intern

Gary Farlow

“It really is hard to choose, but one of my favorites is Glenwood by Gary Farlow. In his ‘I Am From’ poem, Gary writes: ‘I am from persimmons,/from Karo syrup, and grits./I am from the front porch (wide, long, cool in the sweltering heat.).’ When I see this painting, I think of home (mine and Gary’s), long summer afternoons on the front porch and those special places that always seem to stay exactly the same, no matter how much time goes by.” ~Hannah, JAC Intern

Rachel Peterson

“One of my many favorite pieces from our network is Rachel Peterson’s Evenings of Immortality. I’m immediately transported to one of my happiest places, in the middle of the woods surrounded by tall trees and a star filled sky. Peterson’s use of perspective in this work makes me feel small compared to the world I’m surrounded by. This work is accompanied by a beautifully written poem. Peterson writes:

To the nights of existential bliss/when the universe is at your fingertips/and the beyond speaks to your soul./Pain is relieved/through the breath of the trees and the stars dance in glitter and gold.

I’m amazed by the color palette she uses in her nighttime sky. The hues of deep blues and purples blend together so purposefully. I truly feel as if I’m looking up to my night sky. As I see the shooting stars move across the canvas, I want to close my eyes and make a wish. It takes an incredible artist to be able to transport their viewer to a place of immortality.” ~Katherine, JAC Intern 

Chad Merrill

“Chad Merrill’s Self Portrait with Death is incredibly dynamic and captivating, while demonstrating the presence of potent emotions in his work. I admire the transparency and rawness in his artistic expression, and while many of his works captivate me, this one in particular gives me this sense of a struggle against the self or with an allegory of darkness. His work is simultaneously enchanting and emotionally weighted, yet in a way that moves and comforts me.


Tomás’ Untitled portrait of a woman has been a favorite since the first time that I saw it. I got the chance to speak with him about it and only fell in love with it further. He told me that the woman was a model in a magazine who looked misplaced —her face held a weight to it that seemingly did not belong in an advertisement. He decided to free her from this, and carried on with his process of “moving through” a material to create a new piece of art. It is often that her inquisitive and strikingly beautiful face comes to mind. I like the idea of Tomás freeing her with his hand.”  ~Ava, JAC Intern 

“Two of my favorite pieces from our network are the paintings above by Thomas Whitaker and Joshua Earls. Both of these pieces evoke such a haunting pain, intimacy, and beauty, and I find them endlessly striking to look at. They capture so many powerful emotions that feel impossible to put into words — perfectly embodying the way art can convey what language cannot. I could stare at both of these pieces for hours!” ~Isa, JAC Intern

Chris Trigg

“One of my favorite pieces is this landscape by Chris Trigg. Having grown up in Seattle, the landscape reminds me of the snowcapped mountains and blue lakes of Washington. Chris’s mastery of chalk pastels is inspiring and impressive – I love using them as well, and his respect for the environment and for the landscape comes through so elegantly through the difficult medium.” ~Melissa, JAC Intern


“My favorite JAC piece is Tomás’ A Place I Have Never Been but Always Am. It vividly represents the paradoxical nature of incarcerated artists’ work: creativity that transcends boundaries and borders in its artistry and imagination, yet emerges from our some of our society’s most unfree spaces. In this painting, Tomás’ imagery crosses physical and temporal borders, drawing on 17th century Flemish drawings. He portrays a landscape he has never seen physically with an almost heartwrenching awareness of and intimacy with earth and sky. I love the dusty blues and rich, earthy reds; the frenetic forms of the tree in the top right corner; and how the jagged trunks, branches, and rocks somehow flow into one another. And I always think of the title as emblematic of what many in the JAC family believe in: working towards a freedom that may not yet be realized, but that we know and feel deeply to be possible. Tomás’ painting reminds me that justice is a place we have not yet been, but always are.” ~Kanyinsola, JAC Intern

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What are your favorite pieces from the JAC collection? We would love to hear your reflections in the comments below! 

If you have an idea for a Community Voices blog or would like to share your thoughts on anything JAC-related to potentially be included in a future blog, email

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