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'I can stand out just from being me' | Orijennal Art Gallery helping Black artists 'flourish' in Memphis

Owner of the gallery Jennifer Elaine Peete says that Memphis was founded on art, "whether it was performing arts [or] visual art."

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The importance and significance of Black art in the Memphis community is at the forefront an art gallery located on North Germantown Parkway.

The owner and creator of  Orijennal Art Gallery, Jennifer Elaine Peete said that Memphis was founded on art, whether performing arts or visual art.

"It's part of our culture here," the 36-year-old said. "The majority of the art showcased in my gallery is Black art. I created the gallery so that artists could flourish."

Many of the artists featured at Orijennal weren't selling pieces before they featured their work at Peete's gallery.

"They've always been grateful for that," she said.

Peete likens it to a community.

"It brings us together," Peete said. "So much culture and art — and then being Black in a dominantly Black city, it's so dope. I feel 'a part of.' I don't feel like I have to try extra extra hard to be seen. I can stand out just from being me."

 As for the origins of her own works, Peete said she started drawing as a child but didn't sell a painting until 2015 when she posted a picture on Instagram. 

"Someone in the United Kingdom bought it," she said. "When I pick up the paintbrush, it was like I fell in love."

Peete said that art, to her, is "cultivating the creativity from inside" and that there are "no rules to art." 

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