Meet Jenan Mcclain! Jenan is an artist currently living in Charleston, but has lived all over. We are excited to introduce y’all to Jenan and feature her contemporary work, which can be purchased directly in her studio and also at Trager Contemporary located downtown.
I love your name! Please tell us about it? Thank you! My mom is from Palestine and it is an uncommon old Arabic name that means “Gardens, Paradise, or Heart.” In the south I always tell people it’s a “Jen” and “Anne” put together.
When did you first become interested in art? Early on (8 or 9 years old, on long road trips I would spend hours drawing cartoon characters (Calvin & Hobbs, Garfield & Disney Princesses). I was fortunate enough to attend an art school in high school with incredibly inspiring teachers!
How does your family shape your artistic style? My husband Bryant and daughter Isla (age 8) are my two biggest fans! My daughter -is an inspiration and believes nothing is impossible-from solving environmental problems to creating the most outlandish inventions. She sometimes helps title my pieces. Isla constantly reminds me to dream big and is the reason my art flourished in the last few years. Becoming a mother helped me find my voice. Motherhood has a way of shaping and bringing out our truest selves.
Y’all have lived in many different places… what was your favorite? Which place has shaped your artistic expression the most? Yes, we spent several years in the Caribbean. I loved the food and beaches in Anguilla; St. Lucia also holds a special place in my heart. We made many lifelong friends, and I learned how to play golf on the north side of the island! The rich cultural history, and (gorgeous landscape) of the mountains meeting the sea inspired many paintings!
Oracabessa, Jamaica is another favorite. We worked under Chris Blackwell (founder of Island Records) on Goldeneye-a real estate development with a legendary history (James Bond, Bob Marley). Sting wrote “Every Breathe You Take” on the steps of a villa there called “Honeychile”. I was always in awe walking the grounds. I created summer art programs in this tiny fishing village for the local school children, many of whom had never held a paint brush. It was a magical experience. Also, Isla was conceived there; we call her our “island” girl!
Name some of your favorite local artists? I’m a texture lover and admire Briahana Wenke. Her portraits are very thought provoking-she’s able to use heavy texture to portray deep emotion! I also love Danielle Cather Cohen. Her colors are so vibrant and she captures Charleston’s beauty in a whimsical, light, and breezy manner. Her art feels effortless.
*Mylkbar carries Danielle Cather-Cohen prints!
Favorite place to vacation? We try to pick new places to visit every year. This year we went to Barcelona, Lisbon, & Cascais. While I love Spain, Portugal, & France, I have to say Italy is still my favorite! Everyone is so friendly. And the pasta!!! We’ve been to Rome, Montepulciano, Florence, & Umbria. I have so many places on the bucket list- I want to visit Bhutan one day-it’s seen as a model for conservation and strives for 100% organic agriculture!
How has your art transitioned through the years? After a life changing event 2 and a half years ago, I started painting prolifically as way to heal from trauma. I started exploring in a completely different way, letting intuition guide brushstrokes and allowing emotional release on each canvas.
Working full time and parenting I had not painted consistently and only allowed myself to view art as a hobby. Soon I started painting every night after I put Isla to sleep and in every free moment on the weekends! Our home was filled with paintings and our dining room floor was covered in paint! Friends and friends of friends started asking to purchase and I signed with a gallery on King! This has been my lifelong dream and I feel honored to share my passion!
Where is your current studio? We recently built an art studio behind our home in Mount Pleasant; clients can make an appointment to come view my work-just give me a couple of hours to pick up all of the paint tubes!
Tell us some of your other interests! I love poetry and draw huge inspiration from Mary Oliver. I also dabble with writing so be on the lookout for a poetry tab on my website! I love and am passionate about ballet and teach a barre class twice weekly at Barre South in Mount Pleasant.
*We love Barre South too!