How did you make your decision to study at your institution?
My decision to study at Oberlin occurred more so as a series of fortunate events rather than a calculated choice. I had a good friend in high school who spoke constantly of her plans to apply and attend Oberlin, so much so that when my college councilor final sat me down and told my to name any college at all to get the process rolling, I blurted out Oberlin. I did not realize at the time that that interaction would lead to my receiving an interview and offer to visit the college, ultimately leading to my applying and being accepted to the institution.
When did you realize that you wanted to study the visual arts?
My realization that I wanted to study the visual arts arose from a previous realization that becoming a psychiatrist was not in the cards for me. I had always had a knack for the arts, but the idea of being a doctor was so alluring that it not only pulled me away from artistic practices, but also caused me to momentarily forget that I have no proficiency in the sciences whatsoever. After that venture failed, a return to visual art seemed like the only logical choice.
Has your focus or medium preference shifted since you started?
I would not say that my medium preference shifted, rather that the art I was attempting to make shifted. For me every project has a specific medium that will best illustrate it's overall theme and goals, and I am more than willing to fluctuate through mediums until I find the right one. This years’ pieces happened to work best as prints while, last years’ pieces demanded to be installations. It all simply varies on what needs to be said.
How do you find creative inspirations?
When it comes to making art, the entirety of my inspiration stems from my own personal existence. For the past three years, throughout exploration of different mediums and styles, each piece that I have created can be traced to a specific aspect of myself at the time of its conception. The intertwining of different mediums and these moments of existence result in pieces that act as timestamps for points in my life that would otherwise be lost to the continuous accumulation that comes from living day to day.
What mediums do you like to work with?
Photography is currently the medium I enjoy working with the most, as it allows for approximately perfect capture of moment. Every minute and seemingly insignificant detail can be contained and preserved in a capacity that the human mind simply cannot replicate.
What does your creation process look like?
My creative process can be broken down into three parts;
1. The Idea
Probably the greatest point of the whole piece for me. Crafting an idea creates a place in my mind of endless possibility where the most outlandish and outrageous works can be conceived. Inspiration usually stems from personal experience, yet can be expanded upon and cultivated into something incredible. Of course there is also the luxury of said idea residing in a plane of the hypothetical, where no one can truly shut you down given its all simply what could be.
2. The Reality
Usually the point where things hit the fan. Deadlines approach, financial restrictions are made apparent and work has yet to be made. At this point I’ll make a sketch and then attempt to recreate said sketch in whatever what medium I am thinking of. Most of the time this part of the process takes place in the eleventh hour.
3. The Result
Basically the presentation or existence of a finished product. I do not think I am every truly satisfied with this part of the process as the result will never live up to the grandness of the original idea. Taking something that was full of limitless potential and condensing it down to confines of reality will always be a lackluster experience. Plus there is always more to be done and more that can be changed to a finished piece. This is primarily why most of the art I make ends up in the trash
Is there any research involved before you start a large project?
There is not really an research that goes before a large project, unless I need to though the specifics about a particular object I am using. I try to keep the work as insular as possible.
What influences your art most?
My mood is probably the biggest influence at play when it comes to my art. If I am creating art that reflects the moments in my life, then conveying the multitude of emotions that come and go during that duration is important to an accurate portrayal of that time.
What concentrations have you explored so far and what type of art would you like to do in the future?
I have not really explored any concentrations, as I primarily just wanted to keep my focus broad as opposed to narrowed down to any one field. For the future, I am looking to create works that continue to exists as captures of life, while also delving deeper into the specific emotions, questions and symbols. I am searching to find the ways in which the complexities of humanity can be expressed and conveyed by an African American male.
Did you have a mentor or role model?
I have had many great mentors during the course of my life, but my professors Nanette Yannuzzi-Macias and Pipo Nguyen-Duy have undoubtedly had the greatest impact on my artistic practice so far. During my three years taking art at Oberlin, both of these professors took the time out to teach and assist me in ways that have far exceeded what I thought possible. I am forever indebted to the time and energy that they both put into me and am truly grateful to have had them as professors.
What advice can you give up and coming artists?
My advice to up and coming artists would be to insure that you are making art for yourself first and foremost. I have felt that there is a push at times to consider how every little detail will be presented to and interpreted by the audience. Spending all your time focusing on the audience is a fruitless endeavor, as it is impossible for one person to account for the millions of people in the world. Rather just remain aware of what your goals are and how you want your art to exist, and the work will be better for it.
How do you think winning this award will influence your future art career?
The most influential aspect of this award for me is that it is a much needed form of a tangible counter against self-doubt. I am an artist who in most cases holds a distaste for most of my creations in the long run. I always see something that could be changed or further pushed in some maddening way. Having this award will be a way for me to step back and realize that there is potential and value in the pieces that I am making.