Jeannie Stone moved to Arkansas from Puerto Rico in 1964, a time when there was little diversity in the state. Shaped by her annual trips to the islands, she has a unique perspective on the social significance that travel plays on forming empathetic cultural identities. Her art focuses on socially constructed boundaries found in the South, particularly the region’s heightened notion of “others,” and the Arkansas landscape. Jeannie has been named the 2010 RV Visual Artist of the Year and winner of The J. Peterman Company’s first national art competition, and she has exhibited coast to coast. She is a board member of the Arkansas Arts Council and has received her BA in Fine Art and her MLA from Arkansas Tech University.
My birth language was stolen from me by my father, who forbade my mother to continue talking to me in Spanish. As I regain my citizenship in the Hispanic community, I am troubled by cultural trends I see even today where generations of Arkansas Latinos are turning their backs on their language and culture. I can tell you from experience that to strip off these parts of us so that we fit into the homogeny of our surroundings is to deny ourselves our authentic identities. As my artwork has evolved, I have found that I gravitate toward the many loose ends I witness surrounded by Southern culture, and the lack of minority inclusion and diverse voices are certainly part of that conversation. Being a person of faith, I like to enter sacred places, churches and retreat centers, and present art that stimulates discourse and encourages questions. Our spiritual selves want to connect, but we have been conditioned to fear outsiders. I find I want more than to simply make pretty pictures. I want my art to talk for me.