Stamps senior channels her passion through art


Ikalanni Jahi grew up surrounded by creativity. Both of her parents are artists, and Jahi said she was raised in a highly collaborative community of artists in Detroit.

After high school, she attended Oakland Community College for a year before deciding to transfer. When exploring possible transfer universities, Jahi was looking to find that familiar feeling found in an artistic community.

A photo of Ikalanni Jahi
Ikalanni Jahi

“If you want change to happen, then you have to put in the work to get in those places to make that change happen,” Jahi said. “It felt like a natural progression to come here (to U-M) and cultivate my own community within the art space.”

Growing up, Jahi experimented with drawing animated cartoons, and her style has shifted toward realism throughout the years. Her signature style now includes oil paintings and drawings of figure and portraits.

“I think drawing and experimenting with the human form is super, super exciting, and there’s a lot of different things you can pull out of that,” Jahi said.

Jahi’s senior integrative project at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design focuses on exploring concepts of nostalgia and her own black experience growing up in Detroit through an immersive installation of storytelling. Consisting of mixed media paintings that depict the Detroit landscape, her project includes newspaper clippings, flora and fauna and everyday people. Her favorite painting for the exhibit features a woman in a historical “Black Bottom” Detroit record shop.

“It’s an homage to the entire music scene as a whole in Detroit. And the color scheme is juicy — I love working with color — so I had a lot of fun,” Jahi said.

On top of working as a resident adviser and as a building manager at Pierpont Commons, Jahi is a gallery assistant with the Stamps Gallery.

“I have a lot of room to explore and really, like, up my game and my skills on the administrative side of being an artist, and working at the Stamps Gallery has been able to really amp up those skills,” Jahi said.

Whenever she’s not working, painting or in class, Jahi likes to spend time outdoors. She said decompressing on nature walks is an essential part of her wellness routine.

After graduating, Jahi plans to pursue a career in arts administration. Her dream is to own a gallery space or work as a museum curator. Looking to the future, Jahi said she would like to go back to school to earn a master’s degree in arts education or arts management.

“My plan is to stay in Michigan for now, but the future is always open and bright, and I’m excited to see where that takes me,” Jahi said.


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