Bentrice Jusu Poet, Multimedia Artist, Activist

Bentrice brings a coiled energy to everything she does, a force to everything she says. Her parents settled on Hermitage Avenue from Liberia before she was born; her father is a videographer. Six years ago she founded Both Hands the Artlet, an arts program for teens that combines poetry, multimedia, and traditional African pedagogical approaches, and in which the teens create and express their truths — body image issues, sexual orientation, bullying, death, dreams. Graduates of Both Hands credit her for cutting through their self-doubt.

After realizing that “I was putting all my energy into helping others create,” she is focusing more on her art — “making it, bringing people in to see it” — and her brand, Her work is unflinching. It deals with self-transformation, opens conversations around murder, gives voice to the ignored, never lets the gay joke stand. She is also doing more with integrating music and performances into her art. Her joy is blinding; her fury swift. This spring she is working on a massive photo mural on North Clinton Avenue, a photo project in the West Ward, an exhibit, Ins and Outs, at Artworks, and a series of films. “Trenton shaped me,” she says simply. Now she is reshaping it.

Photographed by S. Bola Okoya in downtown Trenton.

Connect with Bentrice at

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