Tell us about your background.
I was born in New Haven, Connecticut. I grew up in Connecticut and South Carolina. I received my BA from South Carolina’s Coker College and MFA from the University of Connecticut in Storrs.
Name some people, artists, artistic genres, etc. that have been influential in your work.
In no particular order:
Jean Michel Basquiat
Barkley L. Hendricks
Willem de Kooning
Kerry James Marshall
Where and how do you get your ideas?
Looking at the world around me and how men, women and people of color have been represented inspires me to re-present them in a way that questions and complicates typical narratives.
What materials do you work with? Describe your technical processes.
I mostly work with oil paint. Once I have an idea, a piece or body of work usually begins with a collaborative photo shoot, and from there I edit the numerous photos down to a few. I see the camera in this process as a way of quickly sketching out ideas. Through this process many previous assumptions shift and change. I use the resulting images as source material for a painting. I’ll cartoon an image to begin the painting process. From that point, there is no set of rules I follow. I respond to the paint, the image and the concept as it develops seeing it as a conversation between the canvas and myself.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of being creative? What is the best part of being creative?
Maintaining patience has been challenging. When I was younger I was afraid that I‘d run out of things to say, but in reality the problem became not having enough time to follow every idea. The best part about being creative is that I can use paint to explore complicated issues and share a way of seeing that could encourage new dialogue.
What advice would you give to someone seeking advice about being an artist?
I once heard in a lecture given by Kerry James Marshall where he stated that there are 5 questions every artist needs to ask of her or himself: Why is the world the way it is, and who says it should be so? What is this Art thing all about? What’s at stake? What do you want as an artist who means to participate in it? What is it you can do to determine or to guarantee that you achieve the kind of things you set out to achieve for yourself? Asking oneself these questions often leads to more specific questions, and I find it helpful to revisit them often.
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