WORTHY is the title of Jeresneyka Rose’s first-ever solo exhibition at Hagnauer Gallery in the Manitou Art Center. Putting on a solo show was one of the goals Rose wrote down in 2016 — a practice she uses to stay in touch with her artistic ambitions.

“To be worthy is to be of value,” says Rose. “Black people aren’t usually seen as something of value.”

A central focus of her exhibit is pushing back against perceptions of Black people as a monolithic entity, while acknowledging shared Black struggles in a white supremacist world. Rose points out her drawing of Lizzo, which was modeled after a screenshot that she took of the artist in 2019. “Lizzo represents a plus-sized Black person that makes what people consider to not be ‘Black people music,’” says Rose. “She plays the flute and dances live and does so many things that people don’t perceive to be a ‘Black’ thing. So that goes back to us not being monolithic, right?”


From Scooby Doo to Angela Davis to Lizzo, the exhibit features portraits of Black activists as well as pop-culture references with political commentary.

Rose’s favorite piece is called “They.” It’s a black, white, grey and red painting of someone looking like they’re in the middle of a dance, eyes closed, head tilted to the side. The naked beauty of the figure encapsulates the ethos of Rose’s exhibit: Worthiness is simply existing. 

As an artist, Rose has dealt with being treated as “unworthy.” Without her permission, Walmart sold her portrait of Nipsey Hussle that Rose drew after the hip-hop artist and anti-gun activist was fatally shot in 2019. The corporation sold her work as canvas prints in multiple states without compensation (see tinyurl.com/J-rose-Nipsey).

Rose is a self-taught artist who loved painting as a child but didn’t pick it back up until 2014, when she was in her mid-20s. “I never had the idea or even understood that it could be a career,” she says.


After moving to Chicago in 2016 and being exposed to the arts scene there, Rose started to sell and promote her art. She encountered an art community called the EXPO Collective that taught her how to promote herself and introduced her to art-adjacent careers like community advocacy and teaching. She went from Chicago to L.A., to Houston, chasing robust art communities and eventually deciding to pursue art full time.

Now, at her first solo gallery show, she talks about the art as though each piece was born from an emotional muse. “Each piece has its own little story,” says Rose. “But as a whole they all touch to the theme of, you know, being worthy.”


Action/Abstraction Redefined

The Fine Art Center’s Action/Abstraction Redefined exhibit focuses on Native American art from the 1940s through ’70s, with “55 artworks by leading artists such as Fritz Scholder (Mission/ Luiseño), George Morrison (Chippewa), and T.C. Cannon (Kiowa), organized by influences of major twentieth-century art movements including Abstract Expressionism, Color Field, and Hard-Edge painting.” Through Jan. 7, 2023, 30 W. Dale St.; see tinyurl.com/fac-NA40-70s for more info.

Back to School Culture Fest

Round up the family and head to the KnobHill Urban Arts District Saturday, Aug. 20, for a day of live art, workshops, performances and music, vendors, food trucks and more. There will be storytime and a chalk festival with Lil’ Miss Story Hour along with more kids’ activities from local artists, Kids on Bikes and other nonprofits. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., 2331 E. Platte Ave.; see lilmissstoryhour.com/back-to-school-culture-fest for more info.