Ahead of Strada’s first LA show, Summer '16, we had the chance to speak with exhibiting artist Jabari Amiri Essien Moké on his creative process with his textiles, creativity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and his biggest pop culture inspirations.
Tell me a bit about yourself and what brought you to art.
I’m originally from Saint Louis, Missouri, however I moved to Los Angeles about 11 months ago. I became more introduced to art in high school, but even then I would never execute any art that I was proud of. I took painting classes, pottery, etc. None of these classes stuck with me because of the boring assignments that we were given and pointless grading. This put me off of creating anything for awhile until 2020. Before this I was at the University of Missouri wasting my time, but being lockdown by the pandemic forced me to make something.
How did you get into textiles?
Instagram! That’s what caught my attention to them. I first tried to purchase one from someone online because I wanted a custom piece, but after I was told the price I had to figure something out. I was a college kid who had no funds, so I had to just start researching. I turned to google and then read some articles up on it and then switched to YouTube, because I’m a visual learner.
Can you walk me through the process of one of your works? What do you listen to when you’re working?
When I begin any work, I start with finding an image that I wanna reference. Some of the inspo for my first works just popped up on Instagram or I’m on someone’s IG story. Anything I saw early on, I wanted to have hanging up in my bedroom. No intention to sell, just for me. Once I find an image I throw it in GIMP. GIMP is a worse version of photoshop, I wouldn’t recommend getting it. After throwing it in GIMP, I start resizing the image, picking out how many colors that I wanna use to makeup the image, and then finally buying the canvas and yarns.
Much of your work is inspired by popular culture icons, movies, etc. Who/what are your biggest influences?
Off the top, I’d probably say Andy Warhol, Jean-Luc Godard, and Gordon Parks. Tyler too. I’d say all of them because they pay attention to detail and they care about presentation.
Aside from art, what other hobbies or interests do you have?
Trying to get into painting right now, but Ive been procrastinating. I’ve been cooking again too, my roommate and I have been experimenting with recipes. I also enjoy to skate too. I’m not good at all, but it’s relaxing.
What is your best memory from Summer 2016?
Honestly I don’t have a specific memory from summer 2016. Although I really enjoyed the humid summer nights, hanging out at forest park and going to art hill with friends. Also hitting up different restaurants on Grand with my family. We used to eat at this one Ethiopian restaurant that was amazing. Also I’m realizing that no one knows what these places are unless they’re from back home.
Check out Jabari on IG to keep up with all his multidisciplinary creative ventures.