Jenna Cherry, a 20-year-old Southeastern University senior, recognized for her cultural contribution to Lakeland.
Allison Guinn of the Lakeland Ledger writes, “If warmth and optimism against all odds can be considered an artistic aesthetic, Lakeland’s latest CityMaker has likely nailed it.
Jenna Cherry, a 20-year-old Southeastern University senior, was named Lakeland’s January CityMaker by Mayor Bill Mutz, former Mayor Howard Wiggs and Linda Bagley Wiggs in celebration of her contributions to Lakeland’s cultural fabric.
“It’s always a message of hope,” Cherry says of her art. “All my prints, they all have some element of ‘something is good, but tomorrow will be better.’ There’s a sense of hopefulness and whimsy.”
Her art, spanning a scale from greeting card illustrations to shop side murals, borrows and reinvents palettes from vintage Americana — illustrated fashion and appliance ads from the 1950s and 1960s — and modern artist-nostalgists like filmmaker Wes Anderson.
One example of her work is an illustration of a girl, seemingly followed by her own rain cloud, smiling and rosy-cheeked protected by an umbrella labeled with words like “hope,” “community,” “counseling” and “creativity.”
“I don’t think there’s any harm in being optimistic,” Cherry said.
The illustration also hints at the origins for her studio, Twenty Seven, which Cherry started as a blog about mental health. She said she was inspired to blog because there were plenty of places to find community surrounding mental health issues, but very few resources where she felt she could get help.
As part of her blog she made illustrations to lead each post. From there the change of course was clear.
“I realized I liked that more than anything else I was doing,” Cherry said.
And, she said she realized, she couldn’t really expect to make a living from a blog — people gotta eat, right?
Joined by her parents, Jim and Becky Cherry, she accepted the CityMaker award and expressed her delight at being recognized by leaders in her adopted town.
“I’ve fallen in love with the whole city and the support I’ve had here is unmet in any city I’ve been in,” she said.
Mutz, upon presenting the award, said she “epitomizes” “difference-makers that don’t get the credit. … This is a human spark plug, super high energy, high creativity.”
“What I love, Jenna, is you have used all of who you are to be a difference maker,” he added.
Cherry plans to graduate from Southeastern in April into a career as a freelance artist and illustrator. She already has a client list that includes many other plucky Lakeland lifestyle startups, like A Cow Named Moo, a small-batch ice cream sandwich maker.
And soon after graduating, she is set to marry Connor O’Brien, a freelance commercial filmmaker and roaster at Patriot Coffee. The two will move into a house in Dixieland.
Twenty Seven, her studio named after her favorite Psalm, Cherry hopes one day will have its own brick and mortar store near downtown, she said.
Referencing her art style, she said the shop would be a “clean and colorful place,” with art, other local artists’ work, “curated vintage” goods and a tea bar.
In the meantime, Cherry’s work can be found online at www.twentysevenlkld.com, and at The Shop Across The Street, 110 W. Highland St.
Look for the bright colors on the wall — a Jenna Cherry mural.”