|Photo: Sarah Baugh, EarlyGirl Photography|
1. What are some of your favorite works at the Georgia Museum of Art?
I absolutely love the Radcliffe Bailey piece! I graduated from Atlanta College of Art and so did he, so beyond the medium and the narrative I'm also really proud. My favorite pieces, though, are in the handcrafted area — the wooden chair made by hand and the quilts, among others. I like to see how people make things with no formal or academic training. It often is more interesting for me to view a work that's intention was to not be shown in a museum. It has something to do with the necessity of a chair or a quilt and then the maker really making it their own that strikes me. That natural impulse to create and adding individuality is something I admire deeply.
2. How does a visit to the museum inspire you as an artist?
It reminds me that there is always the human impulse to create, and it inspires me to try new ways of working and new mediums.
3. What are some of the pieces from the museum's collection that you have selected to use in "Studio Workshop: Realism and Representational Art", and why did you choose these?
I selected a Chuck Close piece because the guy could really, really draw. I mean, holy cow! I especially like how representational he makes his portraits knowing that he does not have natural recognition of people's faces. Peggy Bacon is another artist I chose because her mark is confident and strong. Art museums can also be very heavy in their collected work created by men so I made selections to promote the diversity within the collection. I couldn't resist including an Art Rosenbaum because he's local and has done so much work documenting Southern culture. I also love that he creates environments within his drawings and tells a story with loose marks.
4. Is there something you are currently working on or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?
I've been completely invested the past several years in learning about the plants that enslaved Africans and their descendants used in this area. Because I'm not a horticulturalist I've had a lot of fun learning about medicinal plants and their uses, especially the plants that I always learned were weeds. The history of this area is so rich and complicated. Drawing and painting these plants has been a way for me to recognize this past and tell a story, while also enriching my own learning.
5. What do you read, listen to, or look at to fuel your work?
Oh, wow. Anything and everything. I read a lot of slave narratives as well as interviews from the past. I'm currently listening to Rihanna's new album on repeat in my studio. It's really powerful and motivating, but also vulnerable. I appreciate that mix, because it's human. I also read a ton of poetry for this reason. When I need to tune out I watch British detective shows. I also teach kids of all ages and their work inspires me so much. They're really brave when encountering new ideas. I just watch them go and their fearlessness reminds me to persevere.
6. What advice or words of wisdom have influenced you as an artist?
My high school counselor told me pursuing art was a waste of time. It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, though it was painful. I really wanted to prove her wrong. Over twenty years later I certainly have, haha. Also, the poet Rilke said this and it has been with me since college:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
And gosh do I ever love that.
I've heard this, love it and shared it over the years — don't stop. It's that simple.
"Studio Workshop: Realism and Representational Art" runs Thursdays, May 5 through 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Artists from all backgrounds are encouraged to attend, as these museum sessions are designed to be equally engaging for enthusiastic beginners and seasoned practitioners alike. The sessions draws inspiration from the museum’s collection, including works from the archives not currently on display. The cost of the course is a $15 materials fee, which covers all necessary supplies for the four sessions. Call 706.542.8863 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.