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Self-taught artist Jara Segal embraces womanhood and combats trauma through her art

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JULIETTE LANGLOIS

WORDS BY JARA SEGAL

“I felt lost, like an outcast split between states, belonging to none.”

This International Women’s Day, Converse launched its My Story collection, a female-designed reimagining of the classic Chucks. Inspired by fearless, bold and independent women, My Story helps give you the words and colours to tell your own story. To celebrate this release, we’ve asked two Converse All Star members to share their stories about overcoming gender barriers. Here, Melbourne-based artist Jara Segal explores her multicultural identity and how her art celebrates the many facets of femininity.

I grew up in Guatemala, a Central American country south of Mexico. As a child, I spent a lot of time in a little town called Antigua – bright pastel-coloured houses and cobblestone roads line my fond, nostalgic memories of that place. Then, I moved to Melbourne.


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I spent my formative years in a country so rich in culture, where flaws are perceived as beauty, a stark contrast to my new homeland which is seemingly predominantly White. It was the very opposite of what I had always known.

While it was tough, I eventually acclimatised to my new environment. It was challenging, to say the least, having both conflicting Eastern and Western cultures influencing my identity. Despite having roots in both Melbourne and Guatemala, I felt lost, like an outcast split between states, belonging to none.

I am intimately familiar with loneliness; it’s something that has been by my side, fluctuating and resurfacing, all throughout my life. And the beauty of hindsight has shown me that going through these struggles has taught me how to survive inner chaos. As an artist, it inevitably feeds into my creative process.

When I was 20 years old, I started a new chapter of my life as young adults transitioning out of adolescence and into adulthood do. I entered a self-discovery phase and started exploring myself and my femininity, and more importantly, I began to learn about my power and what being a woman means to me. At the same time, I was learning to draw, so naturally, I started drawing women.

My art and process are rooted in womanhood, freedom, flexibility and flow. You’ll see the influences of Hispanic culture through my colour palettes too. I work with oils, acrylic and digital mediums, but I’m mostly drawn to mixed media. I find sticking to just one medium can be rigid and I don’t usually work on demand. As a self-taught artist, my art process is an emotional one.

Art has always been a release for me. I find freedom and solace in being able to move through many different forms of artistic mediums at once; to be able to flow from one process to another. I am rarely the subject matter of my work, but all my pieces are made in my image. Poetry is weaved throughout my paintings and illustrations – it’s my way of telling stories of my experience in this world. They reflect an emotional state I once experienced, a fleeting moment that passed through me.

My life experience has shown me that womanhood can be isolating and excruciatingly painful. I felt this growing up in Melbourne without strong family connections and a lack of female role models. I felt this throughout my childhood and early adolescence when I was consistently bullied. I became an easy target because of my creative and soft nature, so my struggles from an early age are intertwined with my work today.

Back in Antigua, I spent a lot of time with my mother’s side of the family, a line of incredibly strong women. In town, I would meet Indigenous women in the community who worked tirelessly to sell their paintings and handmade crafts. It was here that I learnt what strength and resilience means in a woman’s life. These women live through struggles and trauma on a daily basis, but their strength is what allows them to endure it all. These women exist everywhere – I am proud to be one of these women. They hold up half the sky.

Being a woman isn’t only about femininity, it’s about masculinity too. Sure, some of us can be soft and sugary, but the greater truth is that women embody strength; we are survivors. A woman on earth knows struggle. She’s shown shame from an early age and has been told she’s not good enough. As time goes on, the world increasingly feeds her this pressure. But a woman’s strength lies within her internal being and her ability to persevere, no matter what.

I strive to create art that allows people to connect emotionally, art that explores the many layers of womanhood. I create for the moment people can come together and feel like they belong somewhere, so that even if for just a moment, that feeling of isolation dissolves.

Check out Converse’s My Story range here.

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