Andrea Jenkins

Writer, Performer, Spoken Word Poet
Involved with Intermedia Arts since: 2006
A Chicago native and art appreciator, Andrea Jenkins uses language to connect people and communities, and to empower Black and Transgender individuals across the world. A Minneapolis resident, Andrea discusses her life in relation to art and her role as an artist in the Minneapolis community.
How did you become an artist?
I have always been interested in art; growing up in Chicago we would take field trips to museums like the DuSable Museum for African American History, and the Art Institute of Chicago. So I was always acclimated to appreciate art, about the same time I was introduced to the art form of Poetry, and have been writing, reading and listening to the form ever since. As a poet, I try to express my point of view through language, but recently I’ve begun to explore the use of collage and other visual art forms to express other points of view. Art has a way of connecting our interior lives to the interior lives of others in a non-intrusive way. I attempt to use art to help me (and others) better understand the world and its happening that surround us.

What inspires you?     
I am probably most inspired by the creative use of language- I listen to or read other people’s work and become inspired to create something myself. I am inspired by music, nature, family and the struggle for justice and righteousness.

How can art be a tool for speaking out, for creating change in the world?
Art serves many purposes; it can heal, educate, entertain, and challenge. Art is a tool for speaking out because it has the ability to transform people. I try to use my art to give agency and dignity to Transgender people and Black people all over the world.

How has Intermedia Arts been a part of your story?
Intermedia has been an integral part of my story as a community activist and an artist. Over the years I have performed in many Intermedia Arts shows, including Vulva Riot, genderBlur, and Queertopia; and I have been co-curator for the Queer Voices Reading Series since 2006. Intermedia Arts has helped to nurture and validate me as an artist by providing a venue and platform for my work.

“My entire worldview has been informed by and deepened through art.”
– Andrea Jenkins

What is one of your favorite experiences with Intermedia Arts?
I have had several, as a participant and as a performer. But I think my favorite(s) would be Queertopia, three years in a row, and attending B-Girl Be, the festival celebrating women in hip-hop!

How has art changed you?
My entire worldview has been informed by and deepened through art. It has provided me an awareness of how cultures try to differentiate themselves, and perpetuate their legacies and knowledge to future generations.

What do you see as Intermedia Art’s role in the community?
I see Intermedia as a focal point for communities on the margins to tell their stories through visual, performance and sound arts. We need Intermedia to remain a vehicle for that expression.

ANDREA JENKINS is a poet, writer and multimedia visual and performance artist. She has been a part of the local poetry community for several years, earning awards, fellowships and commissions during that time. She is a Senior Policy Aide to the 8th Ward City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden and serves on the boards of OutFront Minnesota, Forecast Public Art, and SMARTS. She has one beautiful daughter, Nia, and an equally beautiful granddaughter, Aniyah. Andrea co-curates Intermedia Arts’ Queer Voices Reading Series with John Medeiros. In 2010, Andrea was selected to be a Naked Stages Fellow, supported by the Jerome Foundation, to produce a one-woman show loosely based on her manuscript Black Pearl. She was also a 2010 Intermedia Arts VERVE grant recipient for spoken word poetry.