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Interview by Jenna Elizabeth all artwork courtesy of Jaklin Romine

"Luckily, I was able to experience Jaklin Romine's works in person when I visited the group exhibition My Body Is The House That We Live In, which was brilliantly curated by Ezra Benus. Then and now, I really love getting lost in the grace of how Romine treats fabrics in her sculptures. I've been missing the energy and grace of others while sheltering in place." - ILYSM4ARTISTS Judge, Kimberly Drew

♡: Hi Jaklin! I’m so excited to talk to you about your work


JR: Ohh. Thank you. 🍾🎉🎈

I’m excited to talk about my work with you

♡: I think you have an incredibly refreshing point of view, and appreciate your angle on challenging not only the medium, but the art community at large. The weight shouldn’t have to come down on you to be asking deeper questions, and I appreciate your boldness and thoughtful work

“I take over spaces to confront my reality.” I loved the impact of this line in your artist statement. Can you elaborate on what this means in relation to your choice of medium as an artist?

JR: Well first and foremost I have a very deep love for the medium of photography but I believe that it can do so much more than sit in a picture frame on the wall.

So I believe that by printing photographs on fabric I’m breaking the language between image and object hood. I’m creating a new medium Of expression by using the cealling beams, balconies, corners, and floors to drape my works and not just the walls.

And in most of my reality I can’t access most of theses spaces but my work can fit in almost anywhere. But it does take up a significant amount of actual space. Seeing as I print some of my images 10X12 ft.

♡: I was really taken with your photo series “ACCESS DENIED” depicting your exclusion of being able to physically participate inaccessible locations. I think those images in relation to your photography work with fabric and creating an architecturally immersive experience, is very interesting. What role does this juxtaposition play in terms of the larger narrative of your work?

JR: I have never really talked about the juxtaposition of my work against itself before.

But I think if you look at it you might see it’s because of my exclusion from these inaccessible art, music, and performance spaces. That’s probably why I’ve chosen to push the bounds of photography to take over multiple areas of normal disinterest to occupy.

♡:You started that particular ongoing series in 2015, what has that evolution been like for you as an artist?

JR: Oh well initially it just was happening to me and I didn’t do anything. And then it started happening too much.

When I was in grad school I didn’t have time to make the project but I had ideas for it when I was there and I talked with different faculty and express my concerns with the situation and also my formulation of the project.

But I had been told multiple times that this was not very thought out and not going to be effective so basically I shouldn’t make the work. But I needed to and not just for me for everybody who uses a wheelchair.

♡: You mentioned experiencing recent push back - how has that been to navigate?

JR: Oh well... during this past week I had been asked to be part of an outdoor exhibition put on by Durden & Ray and Noyski projects that’s gave me a new idea for the project ACCESS DENIED.

♡: How has it inspired it, I’m intrigued

JR: Well I was given the opportunity to show my work outside and I showed an installation of my project Why give me flowers when I’m dead? When you have the time to do it when I was alive, at my studio and I wanted to somehow reify the experience of the ACCESS DENIED project by also showing outside. And I had the idea to make a poster and create a performance where the viewer, whether they are able-bodied or not , could also experience their access being denied because of the state restrictions of COVID-19 and the quarantine.

These posters I created I hung outside of each inaccessible gallery, music, and performance space. The response has been overwhelmingly negative and the posters have been taken down on almost all locations around LOS ANGELES

♡: That’s deeply frustrating. You have such a brilliant take on it, and the more you collect and expose the response the more I think about the larger meaning of the work. Thank you for sharing that. Do you find it emotionally exhausting to have to validate your experiences to people in the Art world on a continuous basis, or are you empowered by defying status quo

JR: I would have to say that I am driven to continue making the work because I am tired of going through the experience and I’m tired of sitting here quietly about that experience so I’m willing to share about it because it’s for more than just my body and more than just my art practice

♡: I’m curious if anyone had an awakening of their own hypocrisy, by confronting your work?

Anyone that said you know what I can do better? Or made any adjustments to their existing premises

JR: Well. No gallery Initial response was to DM me on Instagram and informed me that the poster have been taken down and asked me if I wanted it back because he didn’t understand how or why he was being called out for his private viewing room upstairs. And this was my response. And then he blocked me. And when you block somebody all of their messages get deleted so I didn’t take a screenshot of all of his messages before he went away

♡: Wow

♡: This connects well into my next question

I’m a huge fan of your series “Messages Of...” I thought it was a refreshing take on the digital landscape and also demonstrates how these filtered personas amass online and enable this false sense of power to text suggestive messaging and use it as a form of subjugation. I think the Internet is another type of mask, in that was can highlight or hide behind staged performances and illicit reactions from people.

I’d like to hear more of your perspective about that body of work

JR: But other spaces have responded positively with inclusion in mind like leimen space

♡: Glad to hear it

I think generating this level of awareness online is so important

It should be a continued dialogue

JR: Well I guess both of the projects come with a little bit of the Internet and contemporary social media mixed into it because my messages of project had to do with me interacting with different men and women on online dating and going off of that platform and going to texting and within the texting is when people got lude and felt comfortable enough to elicit nude photos without my consent. Particularly men sending dick pics that were not requested and never desired

And in that instance they were forcing their agenda or their sexual desires upon me without my consent

And the instance now within this project these different galleries in these different spaces are perpetuating the ideal that they are radical and intersectional and revolutionary because they represent POC queer Fem/masc and have non-hierarchical organizing but without including the intersection of the disabled body they are none of these things and they are not radical and they continue to perpetuate this for Social media on their website and in their social media platforms even though they are false and my direct action is in contrast to those assumptions and to those statements

And of course without my consent and even with my outcries they persist in segregating the disabled body

♡:That’s interesting

I’d like to talk about your zine, and your decision to return back to it after 15 years... what does your next issue look like - does it have a theme? Also, any imagery I can peek into past or upcoming?

JR: Oh well right now I have three zines that I made all last year and I have more content for more stories about the love the relationship I share with my grandma.

Which is the content of magazines right now I go down to the flower market in downtown LA and get flowers and I make a bouquet at home and I take pictures of them and then I give a bouquet to my grandma and I keep one for myself and those pictures I use in my zine that I’ve designed myself with different color papers, card stock , and transparency’s, and velum and my flower got graphs printed throughout.

♡: How can people purchase one of your zines?

JR: I have always been a zine collector and when I was in high school I used to make zines and collage with my friends. Then when I go into art seriously in college I didn’t continue with the medium because I didn’t take it seriously and I didn’t think that the art world took them seriously. But I have been thinking about doing a zine it all of my access denied work.

Normally or what I’ve been doing for this past year before the quarantine I have been in several art book fairs and zine fares from San Francisco, Long Beach, San Diego to the independent art book fair in New York that’s where you could’ve found magazines but now you can find them online here for purchase

My zines *

♡: I love the scarf prints are those also still available for purchase?

JR: Yes I do have a few of each of the scarf prints available still in the shop

♡:I love the connection of the flowers to your grandma, looking forward to exploring more of your zine work

How has COVID 19 directly impacted your work as an artist?

JR: Well right now I am no longer practicing my access denied pro performance is because there are no gallery openings and in accessible spaces are not showing any work. And I am no longer going to the flower market to get flowers for my grandma and to take them to her house because I want there to be no reason at all whatsoever for anything to come in contact with her that could possibly give her COVID-19 because she is 90s years old

♡: Agree, this has had such a strain not only in areas of commerce but how we connect with our elderly. So challenging for many families

Outside of your online shop, how are other ways people can support you and your work

JR: Well this is my Instagram and on it right now there are links to outdoor exhibition that I’m currently participating in with my sculpture and photography are hanging outside of my studio. And I’m sure in the future I will have more shows because I was supposed to be in the clear by annual but it got moved until September hopefully still and I still plan on being in some more book fairs but all of them have tentative dates

And this is my website where you could check out my current band past work.

Strike band.

♡: Being a young artist is already especially challenging, and now I feel like COVID 19 has highlighted disparities in an even more pronounced way - do you have any advice for artists establishing their footing and looking for communities of support? Any residencies or programs that you found helpful?

JR: Well I haven’t personally ever really apply to many residencies until this past year and when I was a finalist for that one was an open call for somebody with a disability and then it was not physically accessible for the housing situation for the person with the physical disability at Flux Factory in New York. But they were a great resource to be able to show my work with some other great disabled artists like Ezra Benus , Lizzy de Vita, and Yo-Yo Lin. Then the group show Talk Back got written up in the New York Times and it featured my video work with ACCEES DENIED.

So I think that what I’ve learned is the most important is to find people who are like-minded and who share a similar experience to be able to cultivate a community that is supportive.

♡: Final question, what are three recommendations of things for our readers at home to engage with, such as a book, podcast, article, film etc

JR: Oh. Ok. I’d have to recommend

Crip camp and Midnight Gospel on Netflix. And I’ve been reading And using the Many Moons Lunar Planner by Sarah Faith of Modern Women, but it’s to much more with tons of insight on spells and tinctures and tarot reading in depth looks. And a new podcast/ zoom class that’s got me interested is Algorithms of oppression book club.

♡: Intrigued by the Many Moons Lunar Planner, thanks for the recs

JR: And the zoom class/book club is run by Mandy Harris

♡: Jaklin it’s been such a pleasure getting to know you I appreciate your candor, and gaining a deeper insight to your practice. Looking forward to your next creation!

Jaklin Romine has been working on Art professionally for five years and has her masters from Cal arts. In 2019 she won the Rhema Hort foundation emerging artist grant. And last year she had her first solo show at PSLA that was featured on Curate LA.