The colorful journal, more than 200 pages long, is international in scope and includes outstanding local artists. This is the first edition in which the Labadies have included their own work.
Their work is also on display in the Robeson Arts Council gallery, which had its grand opening on Sept. 10. Digital artists, the Labadies are three-dimensional in more ways than one: They are great teachers, scholar/artists and community activists. If I were to build the perfect professor, I would pick John and Margie as models.
In the 1990s, John migrated from traditional forms to digital art. It made him very popular with students looking for cutting-edge technology as well as advanced art education.
I met John not long after I arrived on the campus in 1997. A fellow Ohioan and former football player, it was instantly clear to me that there was a lot going on here. John is a true believer; whatever he is doing, he’s all in.
After working in traditional art forms, including archaeological drawing among the ruins of Central America, he became involved in the emerging field of digital art. His work is mind-blowing.
An Apple computer and Adobe Photoshop are the new canvas, paint and brushes. John is quick to point out that digital art requires the same skills as traditional art forms.
Together, they have traveled around the globe to collaborate with other artists and universities. The contacts they made, and their ability to network through social media, paid off in JCAM’s magazine pages.
This JCAM edition is filled with incredible art and stories of artists. There are artists from Russia, Spain, Greece, India, South Korea, the Czech Republic and Lumberton’s Joy McGugan. Textiles, sculpture, oil on canvas, digital creations and more fill the pages.
In the publisher’s letter, Margie writes: “With the third issue, the JCAM has reached a total of more than 600 pages of creative works published with the cooperation and support of more than 50 artists and writers.” The artists contributed in-depth interviews, often translated from their native languages or edited from broken English.
This brings us to their ongoing project, Jumbo Arts International, a local and international arts movement (www.jmboartsinternational.org). It is a nonprofit.
Their two recent Jumbo Jams at the Robeson County Public Library in Lumberton are the most visible incarnation of the Jumbo spirit. The last one was in April and featured live music, art, dance, spoken word and interactive art.
Jumbo Arts delivers diverse art and music while promoting local talent. Some of the local talent have included blues guitarist Lakota John, musicians Morris Cardenas and Danny Young, UNCP Jazz Trios, accordion virtuoso Betty Fisher, artists Alisha Locklear Monroe, Bucky Benson, McGugan and, of course, many more.
“We are planning another Jumbo Jam in October,” Margie said. “We may change up the venue to reach out to an even wider audience — but that is to be determined. We hope to have back some of our local players and invite new ones.
Check out the June issue of the JCAM and past issues at issuu.com/jumboartsinternational.
Around Robeson is Scott Bigelow’s monthly feature about area destinations and hidden gems. Suggestions for future entries in the series can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.