Photos by Cierra English Photography

This Healthcare Gallery exhibit draws on the significance of femininity

The Healthcare Gallery’s new art exhibition “Worth More Than Diamonds” explores the divine feminine and captures what it means to be a woman through the works of Baton Rouge fine-art painters Shelli Brown and Jourdan Miley.

Keidrick ‘Sensei’ Alford, co-curator of Ellemnop.Art gallery, said the idea for the exhibit formed when Miley approached him and his co-curator, Elle Mouton, with a desire to “express what the essence of reaching divine femininity looked like on canvas.”

“At the time, Jourdan Miley, a self-taught artist, had recently graduated high school and was on her own journey to explore and learn how to truly become her own definition of divine femininity,” Alford says.

From their conversation with Miley, Alford and Mouton developed the concept of the exhibit based on the ways Miley saw herself becoming the woman she aspires to be now and in the future.

Alford says the decision to include Brown’s work came shortly after.

“We chose to add artist Shelli Brown because her works encompass a unique fluidity of abstract nudity of a woman’s silhouette that resembles water…the most important element of human nourishment,” Alford says.

In selecting the works for the exhibit, Alford says each work tells its own story and the combination of styles from each artist describes their journey to reach their own divine femininity.

Originating from the Bible verse Proverbs 3:15, Alford says the title “Worth More Than Diamonds” truly describes the nature of a woman’s tangible and intangible character.

“It summarizes that nothing compares to—and nothing that anyone desires—can ever measure up to the value of a woman,” Alford says.

Alford’s favorite part of putting “Worth More Than Diamonds” together was sitting with the works once they arrived in the gallery and beginning to arrange them in a way that tells a story.

He also noted that the timing for this exhibit is important, as this story of being a woman and reaching divine femininity functions as a roadmap to achieving divine femininity.

“It is a pivotal time in society to define and remain true to who you are,” Alford says. “The exhibition is dedicated to every woman who understands what it really takes to be a woman and conquer and every girl who aspires to conquer hurdles to become greater women than the women before them.”

Alford wants those viewing the exhibit to understand that everything we want to be in life and everything we want to achieve starts on the inside of who we are.

“Everything that we want to be, everything that we want to achieve—we already have the ability, the capacity and the power to do so,” Alford says. “It’s already inside of us and we just have to tap into who we really are as individuals and we’ll see the most fulfilled life.”

Brown says the works she has on display include pieces from her series of botanical nudes and her style of pours.

Brown’s botanical nudes stemmed from a new love of plants she discovered a bit before the COVID-19 pandemic. She would talk about plants with a friend and take photos of them, and upon looking at a photo she took, she noticed the placement of the leaves resembled the feminine form.

“The way that my brain is, I see the female form everywhere,” Brown says.

This carries into the botanical nudes series as Brown uses elements of nature to depict and encapsulate the fluidity of the female form.

Brown says being part of this exhibit helps her understand what it’s like to be appreciated, as she’s experienced various stages of womanhood—including motherhood—and allows her to share and learn from Miley’s style and perspective of womanhood.

“It’s really nice to celebrate women,” Brown says. “I’m so lucky to be able to do that everyday with my work and to have it displayed, recognized and put out there for people to come appreciate it and celebrate it.”

Different from Brown’s work, Miley utilizes vivid colors and powerful composition to showcase the elegant, magical and poetic power of woman.

“Worth More Than Diamonds” will be on display at the Healthcare Gallery every day through April 7, from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. There will be a closing exhibit event free to the public on Friday, April 7, at 6 p.m.