I’m natively from Wichita, KS and I received my BFA from Wichita State University. Since then, I’ve had my work showcased in a few local galleries and had the privilege to participate in international competitions. Currently, I’m devoting my talents to video-game development and working as the lead designer for my own startup. Outside of dressing up like some old painter from the 1600s, I was a traditionalist painter for most of my career. Just about everything I produced in college had to do with realistic depictions of people and landscapes. I remember as a kid, waking up to see Bob Ross on TV effortlessly making these beautiful landscapes and have such an infectious vibe while doing so. I wanted to be just like that for a while, but I believe my views changed for the better. After deciding to be courageous, I moved on to digital art and found a passion for it. Suddenly, Jackson Pollock and Mark Tobey became my inspirations as I began to experiment. I loved how their work came from raw emotion and the freedom they allowed their work to have. After a long day, I found it therapeutic to deconstruct an image and reconstruct it into something new. Whether that be appropriated imagery, made-up head shot, or a simple abstraction. It was refreshing to be on the other end of the spectrum after depicting people and the natural world for so long.
As an African American artist, I had to be selective with what I chose to glorify in my art. I had this platform that could serve as a reflection of the music, food, dance, and ideals prevalent in the community. Representation in general with positive undertones became my focus because it was so easy to get wrapped up with the wrong crowds and role models growing up. I also didn’t see a lot of art that portrayed the beauty that the culture has so I’ll forever be an advocate uplifting men and women whether that be with surrealism or abstraction.
When I saw what A.I was capable of, I immediately felt threatened. Suddenly, there were programs that could generate provocative images in seconds which would normally take me days or weeks to render. When you truly break down what these A.I programs are doing with art, they are referencing other artist and dumping multiple styles together to translate your ideas. Out of my own curiosity and use of appropriation from time to time, I decided to dive into the social media frenzy and had quite a bit of fun. I settled on an app called Dreams, which allowed you to feed your own images into the A.I generator and distorted your work from there. Saying the results varied, would be a massive understatement. Most of us know when something looks off or glossed over with filters. So, the question arose. What if the artist hand was never taken out of the equation and what would a true collaboration between man and machine look like? Part of me felt like it was the start of the robot uprising we had seen in so many sci-fi films. The other part of me seen it merely as a tool to quickly form ideas that needed to be polished.
Regardless of how many times I stumbled and found success in this journey, I told myself the artist hand should never be taken away. Every brush stroke, measurement, hour spent in a cold garage painting, or hours spent drawing digitally was worth the time and effort. I had a body of work that didn’t leave everything up to a generator. My layering of abstractions, using color as expression, leaving black representation at the forefront of my work was still there. As a black artist, I still see a void in the creative community on how culture is portrayed and what receives admiration. I will continue to represent my culture in a positive light and hopefully inspire others to do the same. Ambiguity is important in my work as well; I love for the viewer to make up their own minds about what they are seeing as opposed to knowing artists intent immediately. Creating in that way turns the piece into something you can have a conversation over, so it doesn’t become an easy study.
I always ask myself how will I be remembered as an artist? Was I someone who took chances, or was I someone that played it safe? The former is more interesting to me despite the arguments against technology and non-traditional art. Anyone can make art nowadays and that’s the way it should be. However, the traditional way of doing things will always hold value for its authenticity and workmanship to me. That does not mean I would discard new tools just to follow the old ways. As I move on to new horizons, this show may hopefully help others navigate this wondrous time of inventions and artistic practices.
Images Copyright of the Artist