By Danielle Brown

Twenty-one years ago, visual artist Linda Jones recovered from a traumatizing health scare. Doctors informed her that she had thyroid cancer.

Filled with uncertainty of what the future had in store; Jones grew sad about her new sickness. She underwent three thyroid surgeries, one cutting her vocal cords and having to do speech therapy for a year to learn how to talk and sing again.

During that chapter of her life, Jones found solace in painting what would become one of her signature pieces, “Adorned & Beaded Sister Girls,” a work featuring a trio of Black women in varying hues of brown with a head full of tight curls wearing dangly earrings, luxurious long eyelashes, and jeweled statement necklaces. 

“I dressed the ladies in the painting up well and put earrings on them because I feel like if you have earrings on, you can handle anything,” Jones said. “Then, once you put your purse and shoes on, you’ll be alright.”

Now more than two decades later, Jones is a thyroid cancer survivor. She’s showcasing her signature sister girls and some other pieces in her “Art on the Wall” exhibit, opening Friday, Sept. 16 and operating until Friday, Oct. 21.

The artwork also has elements of vibrant colors, movements, and whimsical artistic themes. Her collection features eleven new works and nine signature pieces, including Cultural Sister Girls, African Princess, Butterfly in the Meadow, Mask and Speaks, Adorned & Beaded Sister Girls, Royal Sister Girls, and Blues State of Mind.

“I believe anyone viewing these pieces will see them as therapy and use them for healing,” Jones said.

Jones, 68, grew up in the 1950s-60s in North St. Louis near Farragut Elementary School and Fairground Park. She said growing up during that time, the community was close-knit and always stuck together. The memories from her neighborhood, the historical importance, and how her family gathered together for BBQs is another significant component she highlights with her artwork.

“I want people to relate to my art and show people how my community was growing up, how we nurtured and supported each other,” Jones said.

Jones got into art from attending an art class her friend Solomon Thurman suggested. At the time, she sought an illustrator for her children’s books. As she developed the craft and advanced with a painting she found, she could illustrate the book herself.

I’m blessed to live extra years because normally, people with thyroid cancer live an average time of five years. I’m way past that and know that I’m still here for a purpose.

Linda Jones

“Solomon is a renowned artist; when he initially told me about the class, I thought to myself, I don’t have time to do all this,” Jones said. “I grew to enjoy drawing and painting. With his help, I put the shoe on my foot and have since walked in his same shoes.”

“Art on the Wall” opens Friday, Sept. 16, 5 pm- 7 pm at Bentil’s Event Space and Art Galleries, located at 5561 Enright, St. Louis, MO 63112, in the West End Neighborhood.

“I want people to be a part of my creative journey,” Jones said. “I’m blessed to live extra years because normally, people with thyroid cancer live an average time of five years. I’m way past that and know that I’m still here for a purpose.”

Jones is also a poet and children’s books author. She has formal education from Cornell University and a master of science in Counseling and Art Therapy from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. In the past, Jones was a college administrator, helped facilitate local youth programs for organizations, and has worked with churches and non-profit organizations.

Register for free on Eventbrite for the exhibit: Art on the Wall at the Bentil’s Event Space and Galleries Tickets, Fri, Sept. 16, 2022, at 5:00 pm | Eventbrite.

This post was originally published on St. Louis American.