Some how some way i crossed paths with Aesha Lee a few years ago. We became friends on Facebook and I have been following her work ever since. She was in a ReDefinition show, in which i had the honor of doing design work for, and I got to see first hand how amazing her paintings and artwork was. With an art show on the horizon, I reached out Aesha to find out more about her beyond what is seen via the social network. 1. What’s the earliest memory of your artistic skill(s)?
…. I don't recall exactly how old I was, but I know that I was very young. My father traveled a lot for business and he used to draw me little pictures in notes and letters that he would send to me. I remember thinking that I wanted to be able to draw as good as him one day, so I would practice. I would draw renderings from my coloring books, then later moved on to my hip hop magazines…. lol. I guess that is why I love portraits now that I think about it. The drawings my father sent me were self portraits of himself….
2. Do you have any formal training?
Indeed I do. My formal training consist of, but is not limited to my undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts and Social Science (focus studio painting) to which I obtained from the University of Houston in 2005. I also have a Masters degree from St. Thomas University 2010 with my focus being on Art History. I also studied at TSU for a semester, as well as Houston Community College.
3. What is your work experience in the art field, if any?
I have shown at several different art events in and around the Houston area. Including, but not limited to University of Houston, Project Row Houses, Prairie View University, Houston Community College, Lawndale Art Center (Where I came in 2nd place at the Big Show), and the Collective. Those are just a few I can think of off the top of my head.
4. Is there a particular individual(s) that influence(s) you? And what is it that captured your attention about their work?
I get this question all the time. For me it is a hard one to answer. I am inspired by so many different people that my list is on going. I feel like Maya Angelou paints pictures with her words. It may sound lame, but often when working on a new piece I ask myself what picture do I want to write. I also am inspired by the light from the flemish artist Van Dyke, and Italian artist Caravaggio. Modern artist Chuck Closes has an amazing eye for detail that has long since made him one of my favorites. And then there are my peers and fellow artist. I love seeing what each of them create and Facebook has made it quite simple to stay connected. I think we all vibe off of each other.
5. Speaking of which....what local artist are you feeling right now?
As far as what local artist I am into right now I would have to say that I am enjoying Lovie Olivia's work. The beauty and sheer details that she captures in each piece is amazing. And then there is Julian Kyle, though he now resides in Brooklyn, Julian and I have a similar flow to our work. I first noticed him because we were both working on woods. He often uses worn or weathered woods and I love it.
6. Every artist has a specific medium they favor – what is yours? Is there any other medium you are interested in exploring?
My medium of choice is oil. I guess you can say that right now my focus is oils on wood. I enjoy using them very lightly and building the image. The more paint you use the more you are able to correct or cover up a mishap. The way I work is not that forgiving unfortunately. I have explored a lot of different mediums but I am always game to learn how to use more. For instance I would love to take a course on screen printing… It is something that I have yet to do.
7. What kind of topics or subjects do you find yourself discovering in your art?
Well as of lately I am working on two different series. I have a President Obama series going on where I like to mix some relevant and current issues into the portraits. For example I created a portrait of the president that also contains images of Trayvon Martin. Or when I took a school image of the president and encompassed the images of the children who were killed in the Sandy Hook shooting in another piece. I like hidden details in my work that makes the viewer think about things when they notice them. My other current series address a much lighter issue. I had a discussion with my oldest nephew about what good music is…. I told him that what they listen to today has little to no substance behind it. So I started a series as an ode to good music. So far I have painted portraits of Lauryn Hill, Tupac, and Outkast, but I have ideas for many more. This series is almost like a relief from the burden of the other.
8. What inspires you to create?
I am inspired by everyday issues, conversations with family or friends, my own thoughts, and sometimes the haunting issues of man. The ones that exist, but are not talked about until it is to late. For example, Trayvon Martin. The struggles of being black are not new, but they have been renewed by this tragic mis-justice.
9. What are your other passions? (non art related...besides Candy Crush, lol)
This may surprise some but I am a very big movie buff. Sci-fi, action, comedy, and horror…. I love them all. And I am a sports fan. I actually help coach one of my nephews baseball teams. We make it a family thing around here. Family is most likely my biggest passion though. They come before everything including my art.
10. What is your vision regarding your work? Your hopes?
I just want my work to speak. I hope that when someone looks upon my work they have a conversation with it. Perhaps it evokes a question that they have to think upon. If you see my work and you wonder what I meant by something then I have done my job. And then sometimes its just about hoping it comes out right. lol
11. What else is in store for you? whats next for you and your art?
This October I am excited to be curating a show at the Collective entitled "I AM HIM". I have selected a group of extremely talented local artist to help me bring this vision to life. The show will address the issues of being young, black, and profiled in America. The show is on the 18th of October at the Community Artists' Collective here in Houston. I am very grateful to Michelle Barnes for giving me such an opportunity. Aesha is a fascination artist. If you ever have a chance to view her work in person, you will see the simplistic beauty in her paintings. The way the wood grain and the oils interact with each other is absolute amazing. And her portraits are spot on. I am looking forward to the "I AM HIM" show and I am hoping to help Aesha curate and document this upcoming show.
I recently had a moment to interview artist Bob Privett. We discussed his upbringing, his art history, and his future as an artist.
Tell us about yourself...who is Bob Privett?
I was born in West Virginia, the first of five children. My mother and father were unable to work, so we lived a meager existence. I knew that I did not want to stay around the coal mines where most people worked and died. There were not a lot of other opportunities for gainful employment except minimum wage jobs. So, after high school, I joined the military. Later, I went to college and became a teacher. I retired in December 2012 and have since then begun working in earnest on my art.
How long have you been doing art?
started as a very young child. Growing up, I would draw and paint
pictures and give them to my family and friends. It seemed to just come
natural to me. What’s the earliest memory of your artistic skill(s)?
I can remember that when I was very young my mother would give me a pencil or crayons and paper and I would sit for hours on the floor drawing.
Do you have any formal training?
I am basically self-taught. I learned some basics in my high school art class. At college I attended several classes. I particularly enjoyed the class taught by sculptor Olen Bryant at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee.
What is your work experience in the art field, if any? My work in art has been mainly within the context of my field of education. I have been a special education teacher for more than 25 years and have just recently retired. I dedicated most my time and efforts to my students and teaching.
Is there a particular individual(s) that influence(s) you? And what is it that captured your attention about their work?
I have always been fascinated with Vincent Van Gogh. He also started painting when he was very young. His bold use of color and lines attracted my attention to his paintings. I have a strong emotional connection to his work.
Every artist has a specific medium they favor – what is yours? Is there any other medium you are interested in exploring?
I favor acrylics because they are extremely versatile and can be used straight from the tube or diluted with a little water and used like watercolors. Colors can be opaque to transparent in nature. However, graphite pencil was one of the first mediums I used extensively. Growing up, my family was very poor, and pencils were cheaper to buy. I found I could surprise myself with what I could accomplish in a drawing with just pencils.
What kind of topics or subjects do you find yourself discovering in your art?
Traveling throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe has been an inspiration for much of my current work. Many of the paintings and drawings are reflective of people that I have met and places that I have visited. I make use of bold colors to entice people to walk down a side street they would normally ignore, to visit a place, stay a while, and enjoy the moment of being one with the art.
What inspires you to create?
My passion for drawing and painting was best expressed by Pablo Picasso when he said, "The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web." In other words, there are many things that inspire me to create. I see something that interests me and then I apply that to the paper or canvas in front of me. I never know what spark of imagination may come next until it arrives.
What are your other passions? (non art related)
Besides painting and drawing, I play guitar and sing. I like to play music by Neil Young, Bob Seger, Eagles, James Taylor, The Beatles, as well as some of the newer hits. I really prefer the songs of the 70s and 80s and occasionally throw in some country and western.
What is your vision regarding your work? Your hopes?
The most important hope that I have regarding my work is that my art ends up in the home of someone who will really enjoy the piece. My vision is that my work will move people to stand quietly in front of my work and think about what they see to get a sense of who I am.
What else is in store for you? whats next for you and your art?
I enjoy painting and drawing and want to see my work and skills evolve into something deeply emotional giving others a feeling of completeness, serenity, happiness, sadness, or even anxiety when they are looking at my work. A lot of people read, listen to music, and even play computer games to live for a short time in another world or maybe be a different person that someone else has created. This is what I want my art to accomplish with viewers.
The 9th edition of Redefinition took place last night at the ensemble theater. It was my first chance to go to the event in two years, and the first since I started doing the layout for the playbill. Unfortunately, I was not able to stay for the entire program but I know that the show was great. This years artist included Aesha Lee, Chandana Paravastu, Robert Hodge, and many others. Here are a fee pictures of the artist works and some of the performances from last night.
Mr. Black aka "The Black Apologist is a young Taiwanese artist who has been an avid fan of IAM since I created the Facebook page. He specializes in dark surreal painting and digital manipulations. He reached out to me for an interview this past summer after his submissions to the last issue of IAM, and we were finally able to get it knocked out. This interview posed a few problems considering that we never really spoke to each other and the major language barrier, but we did the best we could. I hope you enjoy.
Tell us about yourself? Who/what is Mr. Black? Why the moniker "Mr. Black"? I was born in small city of Taiwan , now i am a university student of Tunghai , my major is Chinese, I have been designing t-shirt for cooperation, but after two years, due to some problem, I stop the cooperation. And in third years of college, I started learning by myself, and I became a visual artist, now i am a surrealist painter. Well...black is my favorite color, so I put my work online under that name. Tell us about your work...what are you trying to convey with your art? The main concept of my artwork cover different topics such as... "there are many things are happen that we can't control", "today we stress individuality", "a kind of peoples desire", "back round of legend and mythology", "jungle of graphic bring us negative influence", "dilemma with war between the good and evil" etc...I hope that use my artwork to respond modern society's fantasy. Do you have any formal art training? What is your earliest artistic memory? My painting and artwork never count any discipline of art collage, I'm always learning by myself. Although i am visual artist, I think my artwork belong to "outside art", I work hard and try to mix traditional painting with digital tools.Maybe it can change structure and form of art , on the other hand, the earliest inspired of art to me is "digital photography", and artwork of Peter Jaworowski brought me a lot of inspiration, however, when i saw the artwork of Andrew Jones, I decide to walk the road of visual arts. Are there any particular artist that influence you. What drew you to their work? And how have those influences affected your approach to art. The father of computer graphic-Andrew Jones , his art portrait styleof digital has given me visual stimulation, and his creativity and understanding of color is masterful, so every time I watch his work, always get inspired. What are your other passions other than art? I like listening to Japanese bands, their music style of dark gothic gives me a lot of strong inspiration, for example: the band Versailles, their specialty is "neo-classical melodic meta", and their band members appealme.They are not only pretty but also nice looking, band's leader has high a pitched voice, i think i will always be their fans. What kind of topics or subject manner do you find yourself exploring in your art. Self reflecting, strong emotion, legend with mythology, portraits, these genres make me dialogue with myself, in the process of creating my artwork, so there are the foundation and backbone of my art career, maybe I can say that they are indispensable in my creation of art. What inspires you to create? Does music, life events, personal conflicts play a part on your desire to make art or the subject matter you choose to depict? I think it because of the sort of understanding of everyday life, actually I found that when I face with depressed mood or conflict of my heart, my artwork are easy to bring people strong impactful visuals, and people will think I want to express what in my painting. What is your vision? What do you want to achieve with your artwork and where would you like your art to take you? I would like my artwork to strongly inspire me, however i hope my artwork can bring more reflection upon to people. let me use Andrew Jones's words.... 1: When i put love into my artwork, whatever result is not very important, because in process is fill with meaning. 2: Think about how to use your talent to bring a little light and warmth to this world full of suffering. 3: Guys, thank those people that has already thought out everything for you, and don't think too much about yourself, just follow your lucky, and surrender to love. What is next for you as an artist? Any new shows? Where are you planning on taking your work? Where do you see yourself in 10 years as an artist? This year, in my hometown, I was invited to join a group exhibition.It make me feel gloriousbecause as a new artist i can show my artwork with traditional painters. I also expect that after six years I can became a great artist, and have opportunities to design wall murals, as well as clothing. I realize that I am exist of tiny , but i want to use my life and all power to do best artwork, and dominate everything in world of art .