God’s Ways are Much Higher than Our Own
Jacob Zumo prepares to study at sacred Art school in italy
by Sharon Furrate Bailey
photos by Jacob Zumo
Q: When did you first discover you were an artist?
A: Well, I remember I loved drawing on the class carpet in kindergarten and doodling under my bunk bed as a child, so maybe that was when it all began for me in terms of enjoying art. However, my high school art teacher, Carol Hackler, really taught me to appreciate art. I took art at Dunham thinking it was an easy A, like most tend to think, but I realized then it was a constructive way to release any tension or anxiety I may have had inside me. Carol was without a doubt our artistic psychiatrist. Through her direction and encouragement, my art oozed out of me. The more I look back at my career, I see that my paintings are created due to the emotions housed inside me. This can be a downfall and a blessing! Anyway, aside from art, I was a college basketball player, but my coach did not believe I had room for both art and basketball. Due to ongoing nagging injuries that year, I returned home and completed my marketing degree. I also started dabbling in art again and several years later, I was driven by celebrity art. It has allowed me to travel the world and that is a true blessing.
Q:What would you say is your artist statement, why you create?
A: In a world of spiritually, politically, racially driven differences, I try to create a platter of things anyone can understand. Most people walking by my art may not be spiritual people, but molding pop culture/everyday situations into a spiritual underlining is my goal. For the most part I’ve gotten the two down separately. It’s a matter of coinciding them in a subtle way that some may not see at first but connect to a piece that they notice.
Q: Do you feel painting is a spiritual gift?
A: Absolutely. Being able to create for a living is the most special gift God has given me. Being able to create as he did. He spoke the world into existence — the ultimate Creator — and I feel he has given me a gift of expression. I like to think I follow in His footsteps in some way. Our world and the society we live in needs beauty. Beauty and love will save the world. To me, it seems that the art world has gone from completely Christian driven to today’s view of a secular art being the only ‘good’ art. This is something I plan to change. I have truly seen how much of a sense of humor God has and how fruit comes from skill, prayer, and loved ones, but also how quickly he can humble me in the process of creating. Art is a very emotional and spiritual battle. Through prayer and discernment of his grace and mercy, great work is made. God gets all the glory. The church and our world today is in desperate need of spiritual sacred artists. Da Vinci, Donatello, Michelangelo, Botticelli and Caravaggio … just look at their work and you will see a glimpse of heaven. These are a few of the Renaissance artists I admire.
Q: Do you have a favorite book of the Bible or scripture that you have always enjoyed or reflected on?
A: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, His love is everlasting … His Mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 118: 1-2)
Q: You have been selected to go to sacred Art school of Firenze in Florence which is quite an honor. Please share how this all came about for you?
A: Norman, my future brother-in-law, was talking about this opportunity. Norman’s work is specifically “sacred art” and I felt he was a shoo-in to this program. On the other hand, I did not think I would get accepted. My works range from rappers to weddings and spiritual themes. God had other plans for me. “His ways are much higher than our ways.” I prayed about it for over a month and decided He wanted me to go learn in Florence. This would give me an opportunity to not only learn art for the first time, but become more spiritually sound in my everyday life and career. We had to submit a portfolio of our art and write an essay of why we wanted to attend the school. Well, I was ecstatic to receive notification that I was one of 12 accepted into this program.
Q: Share anything you would like our readers to know about your journey:
A: To be able to fully engulf myself in the program, I will not be able to work as a full-time artist. I am seeking donations to help with the load of living costs and school tuition. Donations will be tax deductible. Please visit my website, artbyjzumo.com, and if you are led to give to help me on this “sacred” journey, I will never forget your generosity or kindness.
Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.