For more than several months, Milford artist and resident Anne Jenkins has been working on a project near and dear to her heart and her birthplace of Africa with a series of large scale works that combine both Jenkins' painting skills and the stitching efforts of South African women that Jenkins works closely with. At 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 21, Jenkins will finally be ready to show the art world the finished products with an opening reception at the Anne Jenkins Gallery located at 127 N.W. Front St. in Milford.
"The Vukuzakhe Project" is a collaboration of the Amandawe Support Group, located in the province of KwaZulu Natal, and Jenkins. Vekuzakhe means standing up and doing for yourself, which Jenkins said is exactly what the women are doing.
"They have learned to sew and started a soup kitchen for the orphans left behind by AIDS there," Jenkins said. "This is truly a grassroots organization. The money goes directly to the ladies and the soup kitchen."
The works are interwoven stories dictated by the provenance of the fabric landscape, Jenkins explains. They are interconnected but individual pieces of art bound together by a common story.
Each piece is on a 36x24-inch cradled wood panel. Jenkins attaches plexiglass dowels to the panel to support the fabric landscape above her painting. This protects the fabric from the paint, keeps it as an individual piece of art and it "floats" over her scene. Each completed piece bears the signature of Jenkins and the designer of the fabric landscape.
"It's really spreading hope with every stitch and paint," Jenkins said. "We are truly a grassroots organization of women helping women. At least 50 percent of the profits will go to the group, and it will make a world of difference to them and the children."
A self-taught artist, Jenkins' acrylics and watercolors can be found in many private collections in Europe, Japan, South Africa, Canada, all over the United States. Among her corporate clients are HBO and Universal Studios, Hollywood, Calif., the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Oconee, Ga.; Datacert Inc., Houston, Texas; TravelTalk Radio, San Diego, Calif., and Entergy Power Company, New Orleans, La.
Jenkins has shown at major shows in Houston, Texas, Atlanta, Ga., Oyster Bay, N.Y. and throughout the South East. She participated in an invitation only show in Quebec, Canada in 2004 and spent three weeks as an artist in residence in Colorado in 2009. Her art is on display in a number of galleries.
For information on Jenkins, call (302) 393-6629, visit www.annejenkinsart.com or follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/annejenkinsartgallery.