Jillian Browning is an interdisciplinary artist pursuing themes of feminism, identity, and the contemporary black experience. Born in Ocala, Florida, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Photography from the University of Central Florida in 2012 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art from Florida State University in 2015. She has had her work included in the permanent collection of University of Maryland’s David C. Driskell Center For The Study of Visual Arts and Culture Of African Americans and the African Diaspora, as well as recently having a solo exhibition at Soup Experimental in Tallahassee, FL. She enjoys puppies, comic books, the color pink, and radical feminism. She is currently a professor of photography at Florida Gateway College.
Since graduating with my MFA in the Spring of 2015, I have been lucky enough to get a teaching position at Florida Gateway College. I am now an adjunct professor and teach all the photography classes offered at the college as well as manage their photography labs and student galleries. Education has always been my passion, so getting the opportunity to use my degree for it has been great.
After about a year of focusing on teaching and not really making any art, I was given the opportunity to have a solo exhibition at Soup Experimental in August of 2016 curated by fellow FSU MFA Alum, Brittany Watkins. Being able to create new work after lying dormant was extremely invigorating to my art practice. Working with Brittany was a huge change from anything I had ever done, and seeing her vision and interpretation of my work was amazing. I’m very excited about how the show turned out.
I have also had some of my work added to the permanent collection of the University of Maryland’s David C. Driskell Center For The Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora.
The most important thing I learned during my time in grad school is to stop being so concerned with what other people think of my artwork. I learned about artistic audience and why I even wanted to make art in the first place. For me, my art has always been about the concept and the message, and sometimes that message is only for a certain audience of people. It’s much more important to me to have my art relate to 10 people rather than 10,000 people.
Just keep going. It is going to be hard. I spent most of my grad school career emotionally exhausted and probably crying, but everything is worth it in the end. Spend this time not only finding yourself and your artistic practice but also find yourself through collaborating and experimenting. Just make stuff. Make ugly stuff. Make stuff that doesn’t make sense or fit into your normal line of work. JUST MAKE STUFF. Take advantage of the student galleries and show your work as much as possible. And finally, the most important advice of all, don’t take having an air conditioned indoor studio space for granted. You will not know how good you had it until you’re trying to gesso an eight foot wooden panel in your parent’s driveway in the middle of summer.