Jamiah Calvin has been drawing and painting since he was a first grader on Chicago’s west side. He even was an apprentice at Gallery 37 in downtown Chicago when he was 14. He knew art was more than a hobby, but never thought it was a career. So, when he enrolled at Kishwaukee College, his intent was to pursue a degree in Business and Marketing. In his third semester on campus he needed an elective to fill his schedule and registered for a drawing course with instructor Miles Halpern.
And then his entire life changed.
“It was the first art class I had ever taken in my life. Up until the time I attended Kish I was self-taught,” he said. “Miles thought I was very talented and was confused about why I wasn't majoring in Art.”
Miles added, “Jamiah came to Kishwaukee College with some talent and plenty of passion, ambition, and determination to succeed.” In drawing classes with Miles, Jamiah worked on different shading techniques, and Miles introduced him to many types of materials. When Jamiah took painting with Miles, he worked on improving his understanding and approach to using color. Miles added, “He took great interest in classical techniques such as grisaille - a process where you begin a painting in grays so that you can focus on light and shadow to achieve the suggestion of volume, then finish the painting with glazing of thin, translucent films of colored paint. His final project in painting class showed the most growth technically and conceptually, as well as with color.”
Jamiah explained, “When I paint my goal is to deliver a message or tell a story and to install deep emotion within the viewer. I personally believe that art is suppose to make you feel something deep inside your soul. It doesn't matter if the emotion is happiness, sadness or anger because, if one of my pieces triggers that, then my goal as an artist is accomplished.”
Miles added, “Jamiah wants us to feel his work on an emotional level so that we can connect with other people, their dreams, humanity, and their struggles. His final project in my painting class depicted a homeless person laying down in the street, in an alleyway. This was not the first time that his work dealt with this kind of subject matter, but this work was more complex, ambitious, and technically virtuosic.”
That work is one of three of Jamiah’s that were chosen for inclusion in a group show in a new gallery space in Chicago, The 345 Gallery, this spring, shown under his artist name of Miah Juantaine – his first name shortened combined with his middle name.
Miles noted, “Jamiah has had to balance many things while he has pursued his studies at Kish, from being a husband and father, beginning a small business with a friend as a barber, his school work, and pursuing his artistic career. He cares, works hard, and is passionate about what he does and his work has continued to grow and improve.”
Jamiah reflected on the change his life journey took when he came to Kish. “Being at Kish has been a true blessing in my life. I never thought that my love for painting and drawing would enhance the way it has in the last two years.”
Jamiah Calvin. Transformed.