Layers of Identity

 A rising star in the art world has debuted in Tampa Bay. Florida CraftArt has added her artwork to its Permanent Collection of Fine Craft. Nneka Jones’ triptych, “Layers of Identity,” is part of a series dealing with the removal of negative stereotypes associated with being a woman of color. Her skilled, hand embroidery creates an incredibly realistic portrait of a young black girl accompanied by a collage using fabric and a zipper.

Time Magazine August cover showcased Ms. Jones’ embroidered work picturing an American Flag. Recently, The Washington Post has commissioned her to create a portrait of Vice President Kamala Harris. The December/January issue of American Craft magazine included a four-page feature on her work. She speaks at events, such as Adobe MAX, sharing her journey and how she turned her doubts into dreams and made those dreams into reality. All of this is a lot to have achieved for the 23-year-old recent graduate of the University of Tampa. Growing up in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago to be exact, was one of the main factors molding Nneka Jones into the artist she is today. Her astounding love for color and special attention to detail, as influenced by her culture, have always been prominent throughout her artistic journey.

Ms. Jones commented on the triptych, “This series emphasizes that there are several layers of history and behavior that have been collaged, embedded and projected on to these women from a very young age, creating an image that appears to be perfect but when layers are stripped away, the raw reality begins to emerge.”

In December, the Florida CraftArt Board of Directors individually donated to purchase the series at its event CraftArt with a Twist. Ms. Jones’ work will be included in the organization’s Permanent Collection of Fine Craft in exhibitions which travel to museums and arts organizations around the state of Florida.

“The goals of the collection are to recognize the cultural significance of Florida’s fine craft art in our broad artistic landscape, document the rich tradition of craft art throughout Florida and beyond, and to educate and inspire future generations of craft artists and arts appreciators,” said Tyler Jones, the President of Florida CraftArt Board.

“We are pleased to offer people the opportunity to see art by many of the artists whose work has been influential in the state of Florida’s artistic growth,” adds Florida CraftArt Executive Director Katie Deits.

Florida CraftArt is Florida’s only statewide nonprofit organization representing established and emerging fine craft artists. Since1951, Florida CraftArt has advanced and celebrated Florida’s fine crafts, in St. Petersburg and throughout the state.  Its engaging and thoughtful cultural programming enlightens, inspires, and brings the joy of art to all. Florida CraftArt’s mission is to grow the statewide creative economy by engaging the community and advancing Florida’s fine craft artists and their work. Visit Florida CraftArt at 501 Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. Admission is free. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. ArtLofts, 20 artists’ studios and galleries are on Florida CraftArt’s second floor. For more information, visit or call (727) 821-7391.

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