Artist Virginia Jourdan Celebrates Church Hat Tradition

Artist Virginia Jourdan showcases portraits from her Church Hat Series with

Artist Virginia Jourdan showcases portraits from her Church Hat Series with "Lisa" (holding) and "Lady I" (background). Photo by Ashley Chambers.

When portrait artist Virginia Jourdan saw the spread of women from her church Wings of Love Ministries in their colorful hats featured in The Oakland Post two years ago, she was inspired to recreate the beauty of these “crowns” of women.

Using oil on canvas, Jourdan illustrated the glamour and tradition of African American women dressed in embellished hats, painting 20 women and children from Wings of Love in her “Church Hat Series.”

She detailed the jewels, feathers, and vibrant colors of each hat. She painted her first portrait of First Lady Ida Williams dressed in a pink wide-brimmed hat with an oversized bow and intricately placed rhinestones.

“I love painting people,” Jourdan said. “Historically, African American women wore their hats as crowns and as respect in the church. I just wanted to historically document some of these hats that have become very elaborate. It’s painting African American women in a dignified way, honoring them.”

She says her favorite portrait is one of her mother donning a red hat with an elaborate bow design.

“My mother wears a lot of hats to church. When I look at her portrait, I see the wisdom. It’s like paying honor to her to have painted her portrait,” Jourdan said.

Having always been an artist, Jourdan received her bachelors in illustration from the Academy of Art University. She focused on fine art and portraits. Her work has been featured in exhibits nationwide and throughout the Bay Area, including The Art of Living Black where she received the Honorable Mention Award in 2012.

Jourdan also received awards at the 2013 Richmond Art Center Members Exhibition and the 2013 Festival Sundiata Black Arts Fest Poster Contest in Seattle, Washington.

The “Church Hat Series” will be featured in desk calendars available for sale for $10. Each painting has a title that represents how Jourdan feels about each woman, such as wisdom, faith, humble, and courage.

Ten percent of the proceeds from the calendar sales will go to the Wings of Love children’s writing and art class, Scribble Scrabble, directed by Asha McDowell.

Jourdan will also be exhibiting at the “Top Shelf New Year’s Eve Extravaganza” Dec. 31 at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco.

For more information call (510) 685-3712 or visit www.virginiajourdan.com.

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