174 posts categorized "Thinking Out Loud"

April 19, 2017

Free, not brave.

Thank you to everyone at Redline Design Studio for producing this interview of me. I'm honored.

A Conversation with...Jenny Doh from Sarah G. Stevenson on Vimeo.

March 07, 2017

#resistancelog (Word Choice Edition)

Word choice

As I continue to embrace my outrage against the misogyny of this administration and the world, I am reminded of the importance of being mindful with words. My word choices. My desire to avoid using words that create hierarchy among women.

Case in point. Recently, there was a photo of Kellyanne Conway kneeling on the couch in the oval office while looking at her phone that went viral. Congressman Cedric Richmond joked about the photo saying that she "really looked familiar in that position." In response to the misogyny reflected in Richmond's comment, Chelsea Clinton called him out on it and defended Conway by saying: "Despicable. I hope @kellyannepolls receives the apology she deserves ..." To which Conway responded to Clinton by saying: "Thank you @chelseaclinton. As strong women ... appreciate you speaking out on this ..."

And it's the word choice of "As strong women" that left me feeling unsettled.

"As strong women" are three words that appear innocuous at the outset but in my opinion, elevate women of privilege and denigrates women with less privilege. When the words "as strong women" are spoken, the unspoken words sound something like: "as better women ... than those weak ones, those poor ones, those slutty ones, those pitiful ones ..."

I feel that if I as a woman am going to fight misogyny, I need to be aware that perceived strength in a woman isn't because that woman is inherently superior, or that perceived weakness in a woman isn't because that woman is inherently inferior.

Sometimes, when a woman exists within an environment of abuse, poverty, sexual oppression, the means for survival includes meekness and other strategies of finding ways to survive ... quietly sometimes ... outlandishly sometimes ... provocatively sometimes ... to finish the day with the currency she needs for her work so she can live another day.

I'm not saying that I don't want to be strong. I just want to talk about strength in ways that don't unknowingly ignore the dynamics of privilege among women and buy into the faulty notion that individual hard work is all I need to overcome structural oppression. As Catharine MacKinnon points out in Feminism Unmodified: "When a few of us overcome all this, we are told we show there are no barriers there and are used as examples to put other women down. She made it—why can't you? We are used as tokens while every problem we share is treated as a special case."

I want to be strong ... and I don't want to huddle with the privileged "as strong women" to inadvertently shame other women. And I don't want any perceived strength on my part to be used to prove that there are no barriers ... but because there are.

March 05, 2017

The Outrage

ArtwalkThe best thing a person said to me at last night's art walk is "I feel your emotions ... including the angst, the outrage ... in your work."

It was the best thing because I know that such emotions are frequently with me ... which I intentionally don't chase away ... as they testify to my observations of the world. I'm not afraid of them. And when another human can experience my art and connect emotionally ... well ... that's as good as it gets for me. And as much as I enjoy Happy, I seek not to order my emotions into a hierarchy because Angst and Outrage aren't less important. Even with a still life of apples or flowers from a garden or portraits of faces, I am interested in honestly expressing with urgency, emotions I have in response to what I see, what I feel. I don't want to stay in the shallow end of life pretending that I'm in the deep end.

Speaking of which ... I'd like to say again ... ENOUGH.

Enough from self-annointed authorities on "how to live life" who preach endlessly about what humans should feel, via the "choose happy/I'll pray for you" movement. I don't choose my emotions. I experience life and emotions happen. Art happens. Expressions happen. Connections happen. You want me to choose happy? You want to pray for my outrage to go away? I say to that: Mind your own feelings. Pray (if you want to) for your own self. Because your finger pointing to the moon is not the moon.

March 02, 2017

Reno Tahoe Tonight Magazine Interview

RenomagI was recently interviewed for Reno Tahoe Tonight magazine and I'm so honored to be the cover story for the March issue. I'm so very happy with how it turned out. Among other things, we discuss art, music, my exhibitionist tendencies, discipline, freedom, and why in many ways, painting helps me live another day. Here's the link. Starts on page 16. Thanks for reading it. 



January 20, 2017

assertive & non-violent resistance


I was texting with my girlfriend tonight, who in college experienced sexual assault. I told her that one of the signs I made tonight: "No consent? No pussy." will be carried tomorrow in her honor, to send a message to pussy-grabber-in-chief that I resist his misogyny. Assertively and non-violently.

I agree with Anne Lamott, who says in her book, Bird by Bird, that truth is always subversive. Truth disrupts, it interrupts, it resists. I also believe that the most effective type of subversion is non-violent. 

As I march tomorrow, no matter the provocation, I will simultaneously practice assertiveness and non-violence. Just the way our historical leaders have taught us:

"At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love." (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

"Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man." (Mahatma Gandhi)

"Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less." (Susan B. Anthony)

Fired up?
Yes, we're fired up.
Ready to go?
Yep, we're ready to go. Assertively and non-violently.

Let's stay safe and be heard.

January 18, 2017

to understand. to apologize. to organize.

To organizeDuring high school, I got involved with a church where the teachings inspired me to believe that among other things, gay people would go to hell. Some of the sentences I uttered back then to champion that perspective are ... in hindsight ... shameful and embarrassing.

In college, I got involved with classes and readings that inspired me to understand that throughout history, a person's sexual orientation is extremely fluid. I got involved in conversations with humans within this fluid spectrum and realized that love isn't about commanding anyone to love a certain way. Love is about knowing that each person loves in his/her unique way.

After college, during my career, I became inspired to believe and utter other things that now, in hindsight, I am ashamed of. It relates to the story I shared yesterday related to my late brother. Prior to his passing, I remember uttering things like "Choose happy" and "Get over it" to various people. I've learned since then that for people suffering from chronic depression, they are not choosing to be sad and it is not a character deficit that keeps them battling the grips of depression. 

What brings a depressed person out of darkness is not just one thing. It could be talking with a good therapist or friend. It could be medication. It could be meditation. It could be prayer. It could be, as Allie Brosh (author of Hyperbole and a Half) describes so brilliantly, seeing a funny-looking pea under a refrigerator.

I think there's a huge difference between "Choose happy" which is a command statement and "I choose happy," which is a statement of personal truth. A statement of personal truth declares what I believe and feel without judging or shaming or commanding another human to believe and feel.

"I choose happy" vs. "Be happy" and "I love men" vs. "All women should love men" and "Buddha is my way" vs. "Buddha is the only way" and "I am atheist" vs. "You should be an atheist."

To those who are in the grips of depression who may have ever heard me utter command statements of how to feel and to anyone to whom I may have ever said how to love, I want to officially say that I now better understand. And I apologize.

This Saturday, women are marching worldwide to speak up among other things, for women's rights which are human rights. The main march in Washington is estimated to have the largest turnout for an inauguration-related protest in US history. Where things go after the march as women seek to organize, I don't know but I'm ready to go through it. As a marcher in the Santa Ana sister march, I have received lots of supportive remarks. I've also received some not-so-supportive remarks with the most popular being: "Get over it," a command statement. To which I say: "I'm not over it," my personal truth.



January 17, 2017

Why we march.

Why we marchAbout three years ago, after losing my brother to suicide, I found myself in my therapist's office asking "How do I make the hurting stop?" The therapist said to me, "Exactly what you're doing ... crying ... feeling the hurt, the anger ... not holding it in ... expressing your pain ... letting it all out. Let it out, Jenny. It's ok for you to let it out."

And that's what I did. What I've learned from that experience is that I don't need to glorify the fraudulence of the "choose happy" movement. Authentic happy, and peace, and beauty arrive usually through the hard work of going through the expression of the less bright and shiny ... of not holding it in.

I am joining thousands of women across this great nation on January 21st to participate in the Women's March. The main march is in Washington DC, the day after the inauguration, and there are countless sister marches all across the nation in major cities, including my own city of Santa Ana.

I am marching because I refuse to hold in the hurt of realizing that among other things, the fascist being sworn into office on January 20th:

  • taunts other nations with nuclear capacity in ways that threaten our world's peace
  • brags about sexually assaulting women
  • views undocumented Mexican humans as criminals and rapists
  • threatens women's right to reproductive health, and states that a woman who has an abortion needs to be punished
  • aligns with Vladimir Putin, a war criminal who has murdered civilians and political opponents
  • ridicules with vindictiveness and maliciousness, individuals and groups who either fall short of his definition of beauty or in some way challenge him

The hurt doesn't stop there. There are humans who will be marching for reasons that are not on my personal list but a list that is causing hurt and anger and deep disgust. On my Facebook wall when I posted an expression related to all of this, a person named Li Li Wee posted: "I live in Malaysia. Freedom of speech is restricted. It's difficult to just keep everything inside. You are ... courageous."

Undoubtedly, there will be hecklers during the march. Because there are so many heckling already online. And as the heckles come, I will keep my therapist's words close to my heart:

"Let it out, Jenny. It's ok for you to let it out."

January 08, 2017

Take to the Oars

OarsFor about 72 hours after the election, I found myself in a fog of fear. Fear that the needy, insecure and reckless caricature of a president, #DonaldDunce, would provoke unnecessary international conflict leading the world into war. The fog made me feel that I needed to make nice, walk on eggshells and promote peace as a zombie pacifist.

And then I realized that IF I love my country, allowing #DonaldDunce to continue without resistance is wrong. The right thing for me to do is throw away my fear and pick up my oar. Even when Pea Brains come by to respond to my expressions and say things like:

  1. "I follow you for your art, not your politics. Go back to making art."
  2. "Do you really want North Korea to have nuclear weapons?" (in response to my taking umbrage with #DonaldDunce's taunts toward North Korea)
  3. "You lost. Get over it."
  4. "Obama will be ... a bad memory ... Make America Great Again!"

And on and on ... making me feel hopeless ... causing me to wonder if I ought to put my oar away and bury my head in the sand. But you know what I have found? Thoughtful, logic-driven, well-read, compassionate patriots out-number Pea Brains. Michelle Obama stated in her final speech as First Lady: "Don't be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered."

Because ...

  1. To those who want me to go back to making art: (1) Art that incorporates political commentary (like knitted pussyhats) IS art and is protected under the first amendment and (B) I do not exist simply to provide convenient and tidy art-viewing opportunities for any one person.
  2. North Korea already has nuclear weapons. The point is whether taunting that nation questioning whether they can launch an effective one aimed at the US (as #DonaldDunce) has done is prudent.
  3. It's not a reality game show of losing and winning. It's about staying engaged with reality and participate in shaping America ... the land that I love.
  4. No matter his leadership, his calm, his diplomacy, his accomplishments, his polish ... I have come to realize that there are some who begrudge Obama and the last 8 years primarily because he is Black. And "Make America Great Again" is code for "Make America White Again." And for the women who voted for #DonaldDunce, I have come to conclude that they hate Black more than they love Woman.

So ... to those who may have been in a fog of fear like I was ... I want to say that you are not alone. We are many. We don't have to be afraid. Together, we can move mountains and cross oceans. The time is now to grab our oars and row.


December 29, 2016


For the Russian interference in the 2016 US elections as confirmed by the national intelligence agencies, President Obama officially announced sanctions today, including the ordering of 35 Russian diplomats to leave the US and two Russian compounds ordered closed. To this, President-Elect Trump said dismissively of the sanctions: "It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things."

What does Trump think these sanctions are about? They ARE about trying to move on. You know ... like when a pussy gets grabbed without consent and she starts screaming at the top of her lungs for justice and the assaulter says "come on ... let's just move on."

#artdoesnotbackdown #resist


December 16, 2016

Art Does Not Back Down

ArtdoesnotbackdownAt cocktail parties and such, when I'm asked what I do, I usually say "I'm a working artist." I think being an artist is slightly different than being a working artist. As a working artist, I create art and services that enter an arena of business. I list my art or services for sale and humans who want my art give me money in order to acquire it.

In these current times, I wrestle with impulses to either restrain or express my sincere convictions and feelings. When I force myself to only practice restraint, I feel like a coward. And I wonder to myself: "Is that going to be my legacy? That I lived solely as an art careerist to sell art rather than to express art?"

The majority of the art I make has no political commentary. It's a beautiful flower ... an interesting face. Occasionally, there is art that bubbles up from within ... art that won't back down from commenting on current happenings. Reportage. And when I do, I always receive comments (public and private) that knock the wind out of me like: "That's not art. It's crap." "Shut the fuck up about politics and just paint."

I also receive comments (public and private) that strengthen me like: "Thanks for speaking up. I was raped in college and your art makes me feel not so alone." "Your art gives me strength to express myself."

I look around the world and wonder: What is my artistic responsibility?

For me, part of it is to manage the business portion so that I can keep working and selling and staying visible and afloat. But it's also to occasionally allow sincere, clever, thoughtful expressions that support or denounce things I see without practicing restraint, with faith in knowing that I am not alone. With faith in who I am.

Because if I can't allow my art to occasionally do that, and if the world becomes one that does not allow that, then what is the purpose of existing? Just to make nice nice, to look the other way, and to shut the fuck up and just paint and sell?

I'm really ok if I don't dominate the business aspect of art.

But I've come to realize that I'm really NOT ok if the business aspect of art dominates me.

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