Kianga means “Sunlight”, “Light after a storm”, “The center of energy and light.” Her art is the vehicle for sharing with you the highest and brightest parts of herself. The dolls, quilts, and mixed-media works that you find here give voice to those things that inspire her.
Ms. Kianga Jinaki is a self-taught fiber and mixed-media artist, born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1991, she began creating soft sculptures and art/story quilts that honor the rich cultural traditions of Africa and the African diaspora. In 1994, she became a teaching artist for The Center for Creative Education (CCE). This helped her to grow in her own art mediums and encouraged her to explore others through collaborations with fellow CCE artists. She began showing her story quilts in 1997, at The Daughters of Harriet Power’s Story Quilt Exhibition, held at the Museum Of African- American Art, in Tampa, Florida. This exhibition was composed of some 27 nationally and internationally known Fiber Artists.
In 2000, her cloth fertility dolls were part of Beyond the Fringe: Florida Fiber Art 2000 at The Lowe Art Museum in Coral Gables, Florida. Later that year her story quilt, “A Good Man Gone” toured with the exhibition Roots of Racism: Ignorance and Fear, which was displayed in Memphis and Knoxville Tennessee; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Ft. Wayne, Indiana; Houston, Texas; and Atlanta, Georgia. When the Tour ended in 2002, the exhibition was picked up by the U.S. State Department for its Arts in Embassies Program. The quilts remained on display at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan from 2002- 2004. Also in 2000, she studied and graduated from massage school and received her license in massage therapy.
In 2006, she returned to the art scene with her mix-media collages that became the illustrations for The Greedy Hyena, a children’s book published by Trafford publishing. In 2010, her doll art quilt, “Ayize Mami Wata African Healing Goddess” appeared in the show Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore, at the Avery Research Center, in Charleston, South Carolina. In 2013, she traveled with her quilt, “Adowa” for the exhibition Contemporary Quilts from Traditional Textiles, at the Dei Centre for the Study of Contemporary African Art, Accra, Ghana. ATB Fine Artists curated and showed her works at Diaspora exhibits in 2014, 2015 and Collaboration 2015. “Spirit of the Cloth” just completed exhibition at City Hall in Charleston, South Carolina in June 2015 as a part of The 9th Annual African-American Fiber Arts Exhibit Maya Angelou. Currently, she works as a teaching artist for the Norton Museum of Art’s PACE Program.
Much of her work is hand-sewn, using the sewing machine only when it is absolutely necessary. Kianga’s work is full of curves, “not quite straight” lines, and interesting juxtapositions. Ms. Jinaki tends to “sight” things more than measure them; think of her work as a beautiful branch on the tree of folk art. She has spent countless hours on the art displayed on these pages, thus developing a deep love and affinity for each piece. “Jumping At The Sun is what I’m doing with every piece I create. I hope you find something here that speaks to you“. – Peace Kianga