A look at people in our community

My Name Is ... Jonhda Starling, of Centennial

Local artist, Navy veteran from North Carolina

Posted

South to West

I may not look it, but I am I'm 42 years old. I live in Centennial.

I moved here in 2016 from North Carolina on a suggestion from a relative who's lived here longer than I have. I also deemed it necessary to get my mother to get out of a depressed state after getting out of a divorce. Also, the social environment is less biased here, in addition to less hassle of dogma (and) stigma. 

Childhood passion

I decided to become an artist when I was around 7 or 8 years old and I was lectured for drawing dragons while in church. I was living in Florida at the time. I didn't pursue the professional portion until the birth of the millennial period, so I started off with doing side gigs while working at Home Depot when I resided in Charlotte, North Carolina. I became close to a collective of artists over there, which increased my persuasion.

I got to where I am today because of the grace of God, and there are some things I have yet to accomplish.

My favorite part of being an artist is being able to impact those in a positive, healing manner and using my imagination a lot to stumble on some innovative ideas, which circles back to impacting others.

Navy veteran

I served on active duty from 2006 to 2014, stationed in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach region.

There were a lot of things I didn't realize that I was capable of (until my military service), and since there was marginal room and time for privacy, it surprised my surroundings, including myself. Also, regardless of what rate I was, whenever I was in a TAD (temporary additional duty) position, I had some opportunity to squeeze in painting a mural at some point.

Raising awareness of vets' suicide

A year before I got out of the military, there were some cases of suicide and some attempts from some fellow sailors in my command … I've also struggled with some obstacles personally with some illnesses and depression … there (are) some stories I'm still working on, and I'm still in the process of trying to not be one-sided and approach this situation in a refined, delicate manner because each situation is different and (can) be more extreme than my own situation.

It helps to have more persons involved in order for those who are suffering to find a broader variety of help, so I have to keep reminding myself on a daily basis to remain strong for those purposes, regardless of what I experience happening to and around me. Most of that will most likely be incorporated into science fiction/fantasy themes.

Moving up

For the time being, I'm going to college full-time, utilizing my GI Bill. Every now and then, I'll do short-term work as an electrician with a few staffing agencies … I'm hoping to pursue my art full-time as a sole proprietor and make enough income to live on by the time I graduate.

Local scene

I'm currently a member of VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Post 1 and Veterans Arts Council and have a few pieces of art hanging at their headquarters, located off Santa Fe Arts District (in Denver). I also have some art hanging at Flying Dragon Martial Arts located (at) Dry Creek Road and University Boulevard.

If you would like to suggest someone for My Name Is ..., or if you would like to be featured in the segment, contact Ellis Arnold at earnold@coloradocommunitymedia.com or 303-566-4109.

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