Bentrice Jusu

Illustration, Video, Digital Multimedia

@beni_jusu

Living by the mantra “constraints inspire creativity,” Bentrice Jusu’s innovative artistic career derives from her roots and includes work in, around, and far beyond her hometown.

Born and raised in Trenton, Bentrice is keenly aware not just of the challenges facing our communities but also of the transformative power and talent they hold. For over 10 years, she served as the founder and Executive Director of Both Hands Artlet, an organization that used contemporary art and unconventional educational practices to engage underserved teens in Trenton, guiding them to find their voices around the hard issues they face and using art to reclaim power over them. She is particularly known for spoken word poetry and performance that has made its way to the Brooklyn Museum and Tanzania Film Festival, alongside the works of Alice Walker and Ntozake Shange. She also works in photography, film, and large scale public installations, including the “Art of Becoming” mural at Clinton and Olden Avenues in Trenton and a photo installation at Razor Sharp Barber Shop. Similar to her teaching methods, her place-based installations combine multiple mediums and derive directly from the perspectives of community members, particularly youth, who drive the creation process, speak their truth and reclaim their space.

The Potential Project was birthed from Bentrice’s personal experience with almost losing her life in the infamous Pulse Nightclub shooting, paired with losing a talented student to gun violence. What would have happened with her unfinished work had the evening in Orlando been fatal? What comes of her student’s never-to-be-finished poetry and film projects? How can we exist in the space of desire, pain, reconstruction, and repair, and foresee a promising future for a space we call home? These are a few questions that the “Potential Project” seeks to explore and illustrate.

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I’m using this project to really show how much potential our city has lost to violence - but I also want to show that each of us also has the potential to create a better city, where we can all heal together.