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 Sterling Heights Featured Artist Cameron Jenkins stands next to his work at Sterling Heights City Hall.

Sterling Heights Featured Artist Cameron Jenkins stands next to his work at Sterling Heights City Hall.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Music, community engagement inspire Featured Artist in Sterling Heights

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 14, 2020

 Jenkins’ work has been called “very powerful” and “very exciting” by the chair of the Sterling Heights Arts Commission.

Jenkins’ work has been called “very powerful” and “very exciting” by the chair of the Sterling Heights Arts Commission.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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STERLING HEIGHTS — For Cameron Jenkins, part of the satisfaction of making art is meeting new people and sharing the work with others. That’s especially true when others include prominent singers and music artists, such as SZA.

“That was, like, my freshman year in college,” he said. “At concerts, I used to have my portfolio with me in the bag. I had the picture I drew of her. (The concert staff) liked it so much, they were like, ‘All right, you could give it to her.’

“That was the biggest turning point — that I need to make this my life.”

Jenkins, a local graphic designer and illustrator, recently got another chance to make his work known to new audiences when the Sterling Heights Arts Commission awarded him the title of Featured Artist for February and March. During that time, Jenkins will have his work displayed in City Hall’s lower level.

“When I won, I thought, ‘This was dope,” he said.

Jenkins, 23, from Farmington Hills, said he has enjoyed creating art since at least his early elementary school days, but it wasn’t until college that he started taking it seriously as a vocation. Everyday events in life — good and bad, financial and relationship-oriented — motivated him to create. He studied art at the Kendall College of Art and Design at Ferris State University and graphic design at Wayne State University.

“Things in my life were happening,” he said. “To cope with that, I just needed something kind of therapeutic for me. … I think I started realizing that I like to tell a story. (As) it got more and more, I realized I could make this my career.”

Jenkins said his passions for listening to music and creating artwork play hand in hand. Often when he works, he’ll pick a song that inspires him and play it over and over again, “until the image is just kind of constructed in my mind.”

His music tastes include R&B, rock, Japanese jazz, electronic, country and more. Besides music, Jenkins said current events and the unpredictability of life also inspire him.

His favorite artistic media of choice are painting and digital art, but he said he keeps his options open and likes to experiment with media such as motion graphics. One common motif in his works involves envisioning the future.

“It comes down to how I’m making stuff, how can I make this innovative,” he said. “I’m very confident in my ideas.”

Jenkins said he hopes to use his art to reach out to communities, pursue mural work and make the world a better place than he found it. He added that he’s involved with contributing art and design work to the Highland Park Arts and Cultural Council, which he said is trying to beautify the city.

“It still lets me use my art and use it in a way to help,” he said.

Jeanne Schabath-Lewis, the chair of the Sterling Heights Arts Commission, said Jenkins’ work is a little bit different from other showcased art pieces.

“They’re very powerful, a little bit risky, very exciting and sensual,” she said.   

Learn more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.

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