As an artist, activist, and educator, Dinah Jean-Philippe is the creator and de facto head of an inclusive, nonprofit arts organization that offers arts education to typically underserved children. At the heart of the organization’s operations is the underlying belief that the creation and study of art carries with it the power to positively transform the lives of individuals and uplift entire communities. In her capacity as an arts educator and nonprofit representative, Dinah has spent the past decade educating children from a wide variety of backgrounds about the arts, making presentations and fielding questions in public schools and private clubs across Southern Florida.
Hailing from Miami, Dinah Jean-Philippe is also a highly regarded artist. Through her work in both the artistic community and in the field of education, she has earned a reputation as a passionate, creative, humanitarian-minded professional, always searching for new ways to impart knowledge to the next generation and make the world a better place to live.
How have you achieved success?
I view my greatest professional success as my role as a representative for the organization that I founded, traveling throughout the State of Florida and speaking with young people about art. I’ve been doing it for about ten years now, and it’s just so encouraging to see children who might not otherwise be exposed to paintings and sculptures—even performance art—engage with it and gain new perspectives. Sometimes I receive letters from the children I’ve spoken with long after I’ve visited their school or club, and they express such joy and delight with the artistic world. Many of them thank me for opening up their eyes to a brand new avenue of culture—at least new to them. I live for that. And more than anything else, it makes me think that the work we do at the organization is a resounding success.
What are some of the obstacles you’ve overcome to reach your level of success that you’re particularly proud of?
One of the reasons I founded the organization in the first place is because public school boards have been facing a funding crunch recently. Unfortunately, when that happens, arts classes are often one of the first things to be cut from the budget, which I think is terrible. The organization is designed to help make up for that loss, but doing so does present unique challenges. We work to overcome those challenges every day and will continue to do so for as long as is needed.
What drives you to succeed?
The answer to this question is simple: I love art, and I love kids, and love educating kids about art. It is the singular passion in my life.
How has your definition of success changed over the years?
Early in my career, before I had set up the organization, I was primarily an artist. Back then, my definition of success largely revolved around landing buyers for my pieces and lining up new showings at the galleries around Miami. Later, as my career began to gain momentum, my definition of success became courting benefactors, solidifying my reputation, and getting good reviews in relevant local publications. Finally, after I had secured my own financial wellbeing, as well as my position in the artistic community, I began to shift my focus to helping others. Now, my definition of success is reaching as many children as possible with the power and beauty of art. I also still create my own art, of course, and doing so brings me great fulfillment and happiness. So, I suppose that would also be part of my definition of success.
What has achieving success meant to you?
At every stage of my journey, once I have achieved what I deemed to be success, the very next thought in my mind is literally ‘Okay, what’s next?’ I’ve always thought that once you achieve a goal, you immediately set another, more difficult one for yourself. That’s always been the way I’ve lived my life.
Do you have advice for others on how to be successful?
My advice would be to always follow your heart. There was a time when I was younger that I doubted myself; I doubted my talent and ability; I doubted if I could ever become a professional artist able to support myself. I’m incredibly glad that I brushed those doubts aside and embraced my passion fully. It turned out that all those doubts were unfounded. I will add that I didn’t get to where I am today without years and years of hard work, so I’ll add that to my advice, too. Work hard and follow your heart.
How do you feel a person reaching their definition of success affects their outlook?
I think that achieving success guides most every person’s choices and actions in life, no matter their vocation. If that’s the case, when a person reaches their definition of success, it will greatly affect their outlook, and I would have to think for the better. After all, who doesn’t feel extra good after notching a new accomplishment or attaining a long-held goal? Speaking for myself, whenever I succeed in an endeavor, I come away a little bit more optimistic than before about both myself and the world around me. I think that’s a common sentiment.
Website — dinahjeanphilippe.com