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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Hawk Spotlight on: Jazlyne Sabree

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Jazlyne Sabree with her painting “Ready for School” in her PAFA art studio. PHOTO: HANNAH MADEYA ’24/THE HAWK

Social justice advocacy can come in the form of educating, protesting or, in Jazlyne Sabree’s case, through art. 

Sabree started her professional career as an artist as an undergraduate student at Clark Atlanta University. She went on to get her master’s degree in art education from Boston University in 2021 and is currently working toward a master’s degree in fine art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA).

Art was something that always held a prominent role in Sabree’s life as she grew up. But it was not until 2012, when she switched her major at Clark Atlanta University from journalism to art, that she realized art was not just what she wanted to be doing, but what she needed to be doing. 

All of her work is curated with thought, intention and passion. She has used her own personal experiences to tell her own stories and to represent the ongoing struggles that Black people face in today’s society. 

“I think my life has always been rooted in social justice. I didn’t really have a choice as a Black woman growing up in this area,” Sabree said. “My father was involved with drugs and things like that, and I was able to watch my father battle within the justice system. I was also watching my brother ‘fit the description’ at 13 years old and watching the way that we were policed in our schools. Thankfully, I had a lot of educators growing up who were able to inform us about what was happening in the world and inform us about the true history of Black and brown individuals that are often, and even currently, being erased.” 

Most of Sabree’s current work is abstract and metaphorical. Through art, she highlights how people of color are the target of violence simply because of the color of their skin. She depicts  this through life-sized painted portraits, where an individual’s skin is an endangered animal pattern to show how people, too, are endangered just because of what they look like. 

A lot of her work is inspired by her family, particularly her two sons. One of her most recent pieces is a mural of her six-year-old son who’s skin is a zebra print pattern. In the portrait, titled “Ready for School,” he has his superheroes by his side on his backpack, but he is wearing a bulletproof vest, representing the ongoing gun violence seen in schools. 

While it’s no doubt that her work tells a greater story regarding societal problems, it is also representative of the simple aspects of life, according to Kevin Richards, Ph.D., Sabree’s current advisor at PAFA. 

“[Sabree has] this ability to use multiple visual languages to bring out the poetry in her depictions of everyday scenes and bring out this poignancy and tenderness through her decisions in how she represents things,” Richards said. “Especially with the way that she represents motherhood, sisterhood, generational relationships, nurturing relationships, relationships of care, relationships of joy, just within the simple moments of everyday life.”

For Sabree, many of these simple moments stem from motherhood. As a mother, she finds one of the most important aspects of her work to be education. Having the opportunity to raise young men and teach them to be proud of who they are and where they come from is something she takes pride in. 

“I feel like social justice work is so layered, even in my work as just a mother and the things that I’m teaching my own kids,” Sabree said. “I’m trying to raise young men who are aware of what’s happening in the world, who are proud of their heritage and who they are.” 

One of Sabee’s professors at Clark Atlanta University, Christopher Hickey, M.F.A., says that he has seen a substantial amount of progress in her work, and he’s most impressed by her ability to advocate through work all while balancing her personal life. 

“When she graduated, she was very strong conceptually, and she had the passion,” Hickey said. “… But now she’s just taking off like a rocket. She’s getting this wonderful opportunity to just focus on making art, thinking about art, dealing with issues of social justice, and to do that as an older student, a mom [with] two kids, a supportive husband, it’s just a pretty cool story.” 

Sabree’s talent allows her to have a platform to not only share her work, but also educate others through her own firsthand experiences as a Black woman. 

“I’m a believer that the things that we experience and the challenges that we face are meant to be shared,” Sabree said. “It lets others know that you’re not alone and that, here’s some truth for you, here’s some perspective for you.” 

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Hannah Madeya
Hannah Madeya, Features Editor
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