Leading Lady Number 3

In participation of National Women’s Month and the National Women’s History Project’s Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives, C4 Atlanta would like to share the next story from our Leading Ladies series.

Everyone meet Jennifer Lobsenz!


Where/who do you work for and what is your role?
I’m the Program Director at WonderRoot, an arts and social change organization. We offer programming for youth and adult artists at a range of stages in their careers in a wide diversity of genres (visual, literary, film, dance, music). Check out all that we’ve got going on and come get involved!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actress/U.S Supreme Court Justice.
Who was your favorite artist/writer/performer growing up?
My first strong entry point into the arts was through literature and theater. When I was growing up, I was pretty into Scott O’Dell, Roald Dahl, Lois Lowry, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hainsberry… Artists who made me both feel and think.
Who has been/had the the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did the person teach you?
Well this is an impossible question! My parents and my partner, Alex Gallo-Brown, have probably played the most influential roles in shaping who I am. My mother has taught me much about how to be a strong female in a male-dominated world, and my father is certainly to credit for cultivating my passion for social justice. Alex, my partner in crime for the last six years, has taught me the power of perspective, partnership, and deep, radical love.
When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
As I was lucky enough to grow up going regularly to the public library and the theater, I spent much of my younger years writing stories and putting on plays with my sister/cousins/neighbors/anyone else I could rope in. After taking a photography course in university, I became infatuated with the medium and the first thing I did upon graduation was move to New York and nab a job in a photography gallery. I’ve been working in the arts ever since.
How is art a passion for you?
I define art as a deep commitment to and strong understanding of a given form of expression (be this paint on canvas, blown glass, fence-mending or hair-braiding) that is successfully executed to inspire deep feeling in the viewer/audience. Inspired by the views of Léopold Sédar Senghor, I see little division between art and life and am much more committed to maintaining the spirit which makes art possible.
What are your thoughts on equality and representation of women in the arts?
In the arts, as in most fields, historically marginalized voices continue to be underrepresented and undervalued. They are there, shouting to be heard, but the people at the top of the tower aren’t listening (because they don’t have to). One of my deepest passions is the redistribution of societal microphones. We’ve heard and read and seen the stories of the historically dominant over and over in our art history books, museums, and on the television screen. I am hopeful that the future holds strong speaking positions—on gallery walls and stages, within institutional hierarchies, in the public realm—for women, as well as other non-dominant identity groups (people of color, the LGBQT community, the working class, immigrant and refugee communities, etc.).
What in your profession has given you the greatest satisfaction or fulfillment? Looking back, what would you have done differently? What would you do again?
The opportunity to play a leadership role at WonderRoot during a time of much transformational growth has been immensely meaningful for me. I’m excited by the organization’s growing commitment to making use of the arts as a vehicle for social change, and deeply grateful for the opportunity to play a part in this chapter of the organization’s evolution. I’d do it all again. I’d worry about things less.bz8Osnen61F0hV0o8WmJCKudAwC-Yh8xpFSSgTMXfUMdFwh4tuZpyYxIVAoCjZy4tFDFQvH_azxZJjTCGQMnrc
What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I moved to Atlanta two and a half years ago and was pretty immediately warmly welcomed by the local arts community. (As someone who has moved many times in the last decade, this is a stark contrast to my other relocation experiences.) I continue to be deeply impressed with the art community’s supportive nature and can do spirit; Atlanta’s got a lot of incredible, dedicated individuals and organizations who are open to new ideas, shoot for the moon, and make incredible things happen for both artists and the community at large. That infectious spirit is what most excites me.
What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community?
I’d like to encourage audiences to think more critically about art, equity, political and economic structures, cultural differences, philosophical inquiries… I’d like to serve as a bridge, to bring diverse communities together for meaningful exchange. I’d like to champion the importance of actively listening to other people’s stories with the understanding that it isn’t necessary to have lived neatly aligned experiences in order to care for and appropriately support others.
Where can we go to find out more?

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