Jocelyn Rainey’s journey as an artist began from a vision in her dreams. Jocelyn is a surviving victim of gun violence. Her journey to recovery and full health is a blessing. Over time she gained back her strength from paralysis. During this time her hands were the final function she gathered returning to full health. As she recovered Jocelyn dreamed more and more of using her hands to become an artist. She envisioned paints, canvassing, and easels as colors filled her mind. So naturally upon discovering her passion she was drawn to the Center for Creative Studies college in Detroit.
Jocelyn was accepted into CCS with upon her fifth attempt. There she met her inspiration in Gilda Snowden. Snowden was a professor at CCS that encouraged, inspired, and supported Jocelyn. “I knew nothing about the culture, lifestyle, and history of art. Professor Snowden introduced me to that whole world,” Rainey. Gilda Snowden passed away and joined the ancestors in 2014. Above she’s pictured with Jocelyn and her daughter Katherine Snowden Boswell. Gilda was an internationally known abstract artist. For Jocelyn, Gilda was amazing. “I was welcomed into a world of creativity by Professor Snowden,” Jocelyn.
As Jocelyn questioned her purpose, role, and focus at CCS. Meeting Gilda Snowden opened her eyes to the Arts. Professor Snowden introduced her to Dale Pryor, Shirley Woodson, Sherry Washington, and many more of the people that add to Detroit’s rich African American art community. Detroit is the home of the only two formal galleries of African American art that are housed in the Detroit Institute of the Arts. Groups like Friends of African American Art collectivize a community of collectors in support of Black artists. This culture, community, and experience Jocelyn felt inspires her to share this with her students.
Rainey launched the ‘FML313’ project to transition urban students to world scholars. She challenged her students to ‘Find Mona Lisa.’ This challenge became a community, parent, and student driven fund raiser that took a group of Detroit students to Paris France. Rainey not only led the group of students to France, she also sold her works to support the trip as well. In 2007 she took a group of the Black male students she taught arts & culture too, to an internationally recognized home of art and culture. Rainey’s inspiration was Gilda Snowden. She is driven to share a world of creativity to students who don’t recognize or witness it.
Watch Jocelyn Rainey share her story of Finding Mona Lisa 313 at the 2010 Detroit X TED Talk