Peighton Mercier (Courtesy photo)

The Leimert Park Jazz Festival is a legacy of jazz, poetry, art and African American culture. It is the home of The World Stage, The Vision Theater, Barbara Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center and Art + Practice.

On Saturday, August 27, at 11:30 a.m., the 3rd Annual Leimert Park Jazz Festival will be held at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Mall, 3650 West MLK Blvd., in South Los Angeles. Peighton Mercier is the winner of the festival’s Art Competition. The L.A. native sat down with the L.A. Sentinel to tell about her craft.

L.A. Sentinel: What does it mean to be a self-taught artist?

Peighton Mercier: It means continually expanding my skill set by being open to new techniques and genres, and never settling for complacency. Every experience is a learning experience.


“It Takes A Vision” by Peighton Mercier (Courtesy photo)

LAS: Take us back to Narbonne High School, your alma mater. Who were your biggest influences?

PM: My art teacher convinced me to explore the world beyond freehand sketch drawing and not get complacent with learning just one art form.


LAS:  You studied fashion and design at L.A. Trade Tech College. How did that experience help shape your work today?

PM: It really put a technical detail into my art and helped me understand the utilization of multiple resources to complete a single project.


LAS:  You’re a world traveler — Canada, the Caribbean Islands and Africa. How has visiting these other cultures influenced you?

PM: It’s broadened my perspective. Traveling abroad gives my work a different kind of peace and solace [in the use of] colors and boundaries.


LAS: Your award-winning piece, “It Takes A Vision,” swept this year’s festival art competition. Does this piece make a personal statement?

PM: I think it puts into perspective that dreams can come true. My dream became reality and this one little piece of art has influenced other people to want something greater, something more beautiful, and to go for it.


LAS:  What is your favorite artwork and why?

PM: I don’t have a favorite piece, but one of my favorite artists is (Japanese contemporary artist) Yayoi Kusama. She deals with bright colors and bold patterns. When I started out as a sketch artist, my biggest fear was using the wrong colors. Kuzma’s work has inspired me to be bold and put my best foot forward.


LAS:  What are you working on now?

PM: I just designed a paint-by-number mural for the Sugar Hill Arts Revival Project. The finished product will be on display at the Gailen and Cathy Reeves Center for Community Empowerment.