“A Creative Birmingham is a place where citizens take what the city has and not only makes the best of it but also builds upon it to make the city even better.”
Name: Javacia Harris Bowser
Occupation: Founder of See Jane Write; English Instructor at the Alabama School of Fine Arts
Creative Industry: Media & Film
What does Creative Birmingham mean to you?
When I hear or see the phrase Creative Birmingham I think of all the artists, writers, performers, entrepreneurs, thinkers, and philanthropists who are working to transform this city. A Creative Birmingham is a place where citizens take what the city has and not only makes the best of it but also builds upon it to make the city even better.
What would you like to see happen in Birmingham in the next five years?
I would like Birmingham to stop being a status quo town. Sometimes I feel that Birmingham is a big city that still thinks it’s a small town. I’m eager for Birmingham to get over her impostor syndrome and step into who she really is.
You write for B-Metro, WBHM, your personal blog Writeous Babe, and have been published in many other places; what inspires you to write?
First and foremost, I write to empower women and girls as that is my calling and personal mission in life. But I also write simply because I love stories. Stories make us human and they unite us as a human race. So whether I’m sharing my own stories in a personal essay or blog post, telling someone else’s story in magazine article or discussing stories written in the 1800s with the students in my English class, I want to live the life of a storyteller.
You also founded See Jane Write, a network for women writers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs. Can you tell us more about that and how women can get involved?
See Jane Write is all about helping women share their stories — whether that woman in a writer, author, blogger, or entrepreneur. To do that we host panel discussions, workshops, networking events and an annual conference. Women who want to get involved can learn more at SeeJaneWriteBham.com.
Why do you think arts education is important?
Arts education has transformative power. Yes, I could rattle off facts and figures about how arts education can raise test scores and increase high school retention rates but above all that arts education can change lives. I know that because I see it happen before my eyes at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. I see insecure, misunderstood kids transform into confident, self-aware and self-assured young adults and that happens because they find themselves in their art.
How can we improve arts education in Birmingham?
Obviously, we need more funding for arts programs in schools and for organizations that host arts programs but I think in order to get that funding there has to be a shift in thinking. We must change the way we view the arts. It is not a luxury. It is as fundamental as reading and math.
Photo Credit: Beau Gustafson