Please introduce yourself, the year you graduated, and what was your major when you graduated?
Raised in the Bronx and living in East Harlem, I am a contemporary artist working mainly in photography. I also have a background in mixed media, performance art, and spoken word poetry. I was initiated into the Gamma Class of the Alpha Chapter of Nu Rho Poetic Society in the Spring of 2013. I received my BFA in Art Photography from Syracuse University in May of 2014.
What was your Syracuse University experience like when you attended?
To be completely honest college was hard for me. Coming from a large family and tightly knit group of friends, I found it very difficult to be so far away from everyone I love. Ultimately I decided to see it through and was able to form a new family of Orange women and men. I would say studying abroad in Florence, Italy and pledging Nu Rho are my most cherished college experiences. Spending a summer in Florence completely on my own taught me independence and it also taught me so much about art and where my passions truly lie. That summer truly shaped my style as an artist today. The induction process of Nu Rho Poetic Society instilled in me the sense of fearlessness with which I have approached everything in life since that point.
What did you do post-SU?
In the year (almost exactly) since graduation day I have made quite a few accomplishments towards my art career. I am a featured artist on BX200 The Bronx Visual Artist Directory. Recently, two of my photographs were accepted in to the Semblance exhibition at the Darkroom Gallery in Vermont. I released my first poetry chapbook called PART OF ME DIED WITH YOU, which chronicles an unrequited love story plagued, by deception and mental illness.
The book is available online at here and will also be available for purchase at the launch party/exhibition Part Of Me NYC on May 16th. I curated Part Of Me NYC to run along side the book launch in hopes of creating a fully immersive artistic and emotion experience for the viewer. The exhibition includes eight emerging Latino artists (including fellow alumni Misa Cabral and Jesse Ovalles) working in photography, painting, illustration, and cinemagraphs. You can find out more about the exhibition at http://www.jenivaquinones.com/part-of-me.
I am currently working on my first art book entitled Absence: La Mancanza, La Lontananza, consisting of mixed media collages originally created whilst studying abroad in Florence, Italy. I am also beginning work this summer on a collaboration project with fellow photographer Shaira Cher exploring the effects of gentrification on East Harlem entitled Not Your SpaHa.
What’s the best advice you would give to current students?
The best advice I could give a current student is to branch out, take risks, try new things. Do not become too comfortable or too afraid to take full advantage of all the opportunities Syracuse University has for you, especially as a student of color. I would have never been able to visit Italy at the age of 20 if I had not applied for the SU Florence summer program and that experience completely impacted not only my art career but also my life. I would not have had the courage and the technical skill to publish a poetry chapbook at the age for 23 had I not pledged Nu Rho Poetic Society, an organization founded at SU. There are innumerable resources and opportunities for growth all around you and it is your duty and your right as a student of color to capitalize on every single one.
What do you think about LANSU Scholarship?
I think it is an incredible opportunity for Latino Youth to supplement the ever-rising cost of higher education and avoid graduating with crippling student loan debt. I hope this scholarship changes the lives of many future Orange women and men.