Saturday September 30th 2023

Keep citizen journalism alive!



Jude the Dude


This alley issue features Jude Daniel Anikpo. He was recommended by Sha’Vontie’s (see June alley) mom. Jude and his mother graciously agreed to meet with me. Our conversation didn’t follow the usual Q & A format. Jude came with his portfolio of drawings and writings, and our meeting became more a presentation of his art. I got to see the breadth of Jude’s talents. He explained the symbolism of objects in his drawings, using remarkably sophisticated vocabulary. His mother told me that a favorite excursion is going to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, where he impresses her with his perspective of different pieces.

Jude is nine years old and going into the 4th grade. He was dubbed “Jude the Dude” by his maternal grandfather who sadly died last year. He liked the idea of using that for the title to honor his grandfather. Jude also wanted to be sure to include his middle name after his paternal grandfather in Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa. And, he told me about his paternal grandmother who may have passed on the creative gene to him. She is an art enthusiast – once owned an art gallery in Côte d’Ivoire – and encourages Jude’s creativity. Jude has been able to visit his Côte d’Ivoire grandparents multiple times and they talk weekly over video.

Since a very young age (confirmed by his mom), Jude has had a fascination with reptiles and amphibians which shows up in his art. In kindergarten he was drawing life cycle diagrams of lizards, adding labels to body parts. Lizards naturally led to drawing dragons, of course.

At age 5 he was given a Lego Bionicle set which expanded his imagination to fantasy. Building on that, Jude folds paper to make fantastical swords and knives, adding origami to his list of talents.

I was treated to a reading from a chapter book Jude started in 1st grade. The story is about a venae (half human/half wolf) who was trapped in a zombie apocalypse. It is the story of its survival. Jude continues to write.

We can only feature a few of Jude’s drawings, unfortunately. With each he showed me, he described what inspired the drawing. After reading a Spirit Animals book, he did a self-portrait with his own spirit animal. Asked about the multi-headed monster, Jude explained that it “shoots plasma beams from its mouth,” and “was inspired by the movie Godzilla vs. Kong. I took reference from it.” Referring to the third drawing here, Jude said, “My mother’s Norse blood runs through me, even though you can’t see it. I express it in my art.”

I learned that Jude hopes to work in the design field and use his art at work or make a living selling original art. He asked to acknowledge his mentors Del Starr of Inverted Arts (also from West Africa) and his kindergarten teacher Mrs. Carmen. Alicia Carmen predicts Jude will be an artist for Pixar one day. I’m putting my money on that prediction. They would be lucky to have him!

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