After nearly 16 years of promoting women's issues through feminist artwork, Judi Jennings is retiring from her position as executive director of the Kentucky Foundation for Women.
"I think it's time for me to not work so hard and I think it's time for KFW to have a new energy and someone who will get excited about all of the day-to-day tasks that I've been doing for so long," Jennings said last week. "I do get very excited about my work still, but a fresh energy is important."
Jennings, whose last day was June 30, has been instrumental to the growth of KFW's grant programs and retreats that help give artists in Kentucky the funds and space to work on projects with strong feminist messages.
"It's a really exciting time for feminist art in Kentucky. We get more applications than we can fund every year," Jennings said. "I do think that feminist art is making a big difference, and a permanent difference, in how people see women's issues. The good thing about art is it's not telling people what to think; it's telling them to think."
Jennings, who is also a historian, plans on continuing her historical research and writing during her retirement. She hopes to travel to Jamaica to work on a research project that also has a strong feminist message.
Savannah Sipple, a KFW board member, said she will miss Jennings but is happy for her as she retires.
"Judi understands how to work with artists and the kind of support and encouragement they need. She also understands how to build support in the community, which is why she's so good at her job," Sipple said. "I think she's leaving big shoes to fill but I also feel confident that whoever takes her place will be able to move the foundation forward."
Looking back, Jennings is proud of what she has accomplished with KFW.
"I think as executive director I have helped Kentucky artists and art appreciators see the power of art for social change," she said. "Because I see that power and I've really tried to hold it up."
Annie Garau: (859)231-1687 Twitter: @agarau6