Austin College is now home to “I AM 400,” a 4 x 12-foot banner highlighting the work of father and son artists Jerome and Jeromyah Jones and their project marking the 400 years, as of 2019, of the African journey in America. The Austin College banner hangs in the Dining Hall in Wright Campus Center.
The banner includes 69 original paintings of African American leaders who have been significant within the journey and highlights the culture and contributions of many African Americans.
Jerome specializes in original portraits, landscapes, and still life paintings. He has over 100 autographed portraits in his “Ingenious Artistic Minds (I AM)” collection. Each portrait tells the story of “Who I AM, What I AM, and Where I AM.” Jeromyah paints in the artistic footsteps of his father and is branching out into his own creativity.
The artists created commemorative banners that feature 69 of the works of art so that they could share the work with various institutions. Austin College acquired one of those banners this winter.
In interviews, the artists have said that their work explores not only the suffering of the 400-year journey of Africans to and in America but the successes of individuals. Jeromyah has said that he does not want this art to be decoration but declaration.
“At this period in my life, I feel that it is my duty to be a leader in life and in the world of art,” Jeromyah said. “As a painter, my mission is to portray and define the true essence of beauty. I believe art is the universal language that has the power to speak to the hearts and minds of the young and old. I hope people will recognize the love, the hunger, and dedication that I have for painting. I want my work to inspire, enlighten, and uplift those who have the courage to look beyond the technique, the images, and the colors that unite the physical composition. There is a personal yet universal message that lies beneath the surface of each painting.”
Jerome received his bachelor’s degree in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1980. Jeromyah is a 2011 graduate in comprehensive art from Hampton University. The Jones artists have exhibited their portraits and landscape paintings across the nation, and their exhibits have been featured at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, Hampton University Museum, the Trumpet Awards Celebration in Atlanta, Capital One, Good Morning Washington, and many other venues.
Together their work has been featured in international and national print venues, online, and in television outlets, including The Art Newspaper, CNN, Ebony, LAND Magazine, HuffPost, NBA on TNT, NBC’s Today Show, and Voice of America.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 50 percent of students identifying as persons of color. The residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and more than 100 expert faculty members allow a 12:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. Related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA), Austin College cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. The College, founded in 1849, is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.