An Interview with Deon Jefferson about the the Express Yourself Fashion Art Ball


By Krista Martinelli

AW: Tell us about some of the exciting things that are planned for the 2nd Express Yourself Fashion Art Ball on May 18th. 

DJ: The Art Ball will be filled with amazing artwork from 21 artists in the community. We also added food vendors to the mix, as well as some amazing entertainment. We are excited to feature all of the performers, but we are even happier to host The Young Singers of the Palm Beaches, who are celebrating their 20th year. The major difference is also that the Ball is the signature event for the county-wide “Get Your Green On” campaign, which is in its eight year. I’m so honored to share this opportunity with the GYGO committee. 

AW: Why do you think it’s important to talk openly about mental health?  How will your event shine a light on mental health?

DJ: I think it’s important to discuss mental health because it can help with your daily interactions with people. I also feel like taking time to prioritize your mental health shows discipline and dedication. Having the spirit of mindfulness is a great addition to your day, and a great way to start your day. We will shine light on mental health by recognizing different organizations that specialize in mental/behavioral services. They will have tables set up at the event. We also will have a few performances that are inspired by mental illness. Matthew Gibson and Jashura Sa-ra are two performers that I’m really looking forward to. Those performances are sure to shine the biggest light on mental health. 

AW:  Tell us why you like the Arts Warehouse as a venue.

DJ: I love the Arts Warehouse as a venue because of the friendly staff. Grace, Lui, and Dominick have been extremely pleasant to work with. I feel like I’m walking into a family member’s house each time I go. The atmosphere is inviting and it’s a safe space for artists to express themselves. I love how they incorporate new and established artists into their warehouse. They also have some pretty cool workshops. 

AW: How did you come up with this year’s theme “Super?”

DJ: I wanted to use the SUPER Theme because I saw the word SUPER being used in several advertisements that dealt with mental health. I think people should use their mental illness as a superpower. We should all feel like putting on our armor or our cape and fight off any negative thoughts or stigmas towards mental health. 

AW::  Tell us about some of the artwork that is being displayed at the Back Room Gallery the night of the event and thru June 30th.

DJ: We are excited to feature 21 artists. There are a few artists that we featured in 2021 that returned this year.  There are two pieces from two trans students that attend Compass’s Youth Group. We also have a really cool video installation that will knock your socks off.  I feel like the artwork shows a lot of versatility. You will be very pleased with the set up as well. The Arts Warehouse are masters at curating exhibitions. The artwork will be on display until June 24th. 

AW:  What kinds of styles will we see in the fashion show portion of the evening?

DJ: The fashion will feature designs from Psyche Signature and myself. Psyche Signature will bring their popular t-shirts, hoodies, and hats to show off.  I designed looks that feature colors that represent different mental illnesses.  Expect to see a lot of fringe and green. About 89% of the outfits were created. The women will be fashionable super heroes. 

AW: How did you get into fashion design? What do you love about it?

DJ: I got started with fashion design in college, but I’ve always known how to sew.  I went to a design school and worked for two bridal retailers Alfred Angelo and Gather and Gowns. I love the way clothing can change a person’s outlook. I love telling stories with clothing and making statements, whether they be comedic or political. I think clothing is an extra pair of skin that we get to change as often as we want. I’m a history nerd, so I also love the background behind certain garments like the mini skirt or the Le Smoking Suit from Yves St Laurent, the “new silhouette” by Christina Dior, or the way Elsa Schiaparelli mixes clothing with realism. I can talk about fashion and history all day. 

AW: Who are your sponsors for this event? 

DJ: Sponsors for the event are …

BeWellPBC, NAMI of PBC, Healthier Delray Beach, Birth to 22, Palm Beach County Youth Services Department, United Way of PBC, and Children’s Services Council, and the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches

AW:  It’s FREE, but how do you register?

DJ: You can register at Eventbrite

AW:  What kind of a turnout do you expect this year?

DJ: Who knows? We don’t really go into the event expecting a certain kind of demographic or a specific type of person. It’s always open to everyone and we encourage people to show up in Green or wear a superhero costume.  We reached capacity during the last event, so it’s no telling what will happen this time. Our goal is for people to feel seen, build awareness, and leave a lasting impact on the community where mental health is concerned. 

AW: Tell us about yourself as an artist, journalist, designer.

DJ: I love to create and to collaborate. My background as a designer started when I worked as an employee designing bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses for Alfred Angelo Bridal. I was also featured as an employee on the Emmy Award Winning CBS show “Undercover Boss”. My last collection was in 2019. The last bridal company went bankrupt during the pandemic, so I haven’t really found another design gig since then. I’m always looking though.  My degree is in Communications, so I’ve written for a number of publications including South Florida Gay News, South Florida Music Magazine, West Side Gazette, Art & Culture Magazine and for The Discover Palm Beach Blog. I also enjoy creating art pieces with acrylics and other mediums. I’ve been featured in several galleries in Palm Beach, as well as Broward. I look up to ARtist like Kenny Scharf, Basquiat, Andy Warhol and Kieth Haring.  As an artist/creator, I never put myself in a box. I love trying new concepts and ideas. Creating art is my self care, that’s how I take care of my mental health. 

AW: Anything else you’d like to add?

DJ: I will be hosting a Self Care Saturday at Compass Community Center in Lake Worth on May 27th from 3:00pm to 5:00pm.

Next month,  I will be speaking about Mental Health and Self Care at the Mandel Library Downtown WPB on June 17th from 11:30am to 12:30pm. You don’t want to miss it. 

*There will be some amazing giveaways during the event, there will also be a special prize for the person that wins “Best Expressed Person.”