Jenny Medved graduated from Ringling College in 2004. Now, she’s back with her “Indigenous People” watercolor paintings on display in the Patricia Thompson Gallery in the lobby of Keating Hall.
“It’s nice to see it here, where I actually learned to be an artist,” said Medved, who was named one of 10 artists to watch by Watercolor Artist Magazine last year.
The paintings have the fluidity expected with watercolors and details as intricate as those you’d expect to see in photographs.
Medved started the collection with the portrait she calls “Walking Tall.” It shows a Native American man in glasses, wearing what looks like traditional dress, but with medical scrubs as the base of his clothing. She captured the man in a photo several years ago as he was leaving the stage after a performance at the Sarasota Native American Indian Festival.
“I want to document who they are and what they’re doing right now,” Medved said.
In addition to the Native American paintings, the collection includes portraits of Polynesian dancers, crafted from photos Medved took at the Ho’ike Hawaii Hula Competition in Orlando.
“The more I learn about the cultures, they are very similar,” Medved said. “They’re connected to the earth, connected to their families.”
Medved has stopped painting Native American portraits out of respect for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline. She was inspired when Hawaiian activists joined the cause and hopes one day to do portraits combining the two cultures.
Medved has Native American roots on both sides of her family. That heritage is symbolized in a red-tailed hawk’s feather she has tattooed on her right forearm. She got the tattoo this summer after finding the feather.
“It was shining in the yard,” Medved said. “I picked it up and I knew something was going to be different. It’s a gift, a message.”
Medved looks at the feather for encouragement. She believes it’s a sign that she made the right decision two years ago to leave her job as an art teacher at IMG Academy to become a full-time artist and spend more time with her boys.
“It reminds me not to give up,” she said.
“Indigenous People” is on display at the Patricia Thompson Gallery through Jan. 27. Medved will exhibit “Indigenous People II” at Art Center Manatee next year.