How did you find out about the fellowship?
Doing research about the program, I went through each tab on the school website. I saw the David Driskell tab, watched the video of his lecture, and that took me to the tab about scholarship, fellowship, etc. I was finally offered the fellowship as an incentive to help with the cost of attending the program and as recognition for my dedication and as an example to Dr. Driskell’s mission to “grow the field.” Before formally being offered the fellowship, I attended an artist talk at the Studio Museum in which Dr. Driskell discussed his artistic practice and curatorial work, and I thought, now that’s someone to whom I would like to be affiliated. He was smart, funny, and serious about his work and overall mission.
In his edited book, African American Visual Aesthetics: A Postmodernist View, the contributors write about the mission of “continuing the cultural legacy” of African American art. I asked Dr. Driskell what he meant by that and how does that manifest with one’s own work. What I took from his reply was to work from an honest and authentic place which every artist has a right to do; this has stayed with me, and I try to maintain this honesty and authenticity.
How has your life changed since you joined IDSVA?
My matriculation to IDSVA is one element of many changes in my life that progress me forward to a true self-consciousness and acceptance. This educational component challenges me everyday confronting me with the reality of determination and perseverance. It is character building, and I gain some serious knowledge, too.
Knowledge offers me the opportunity to decide what I want to use when I want to use it. My art is an ever evolving organism in which whatever comes into its path it subsumes. I have this idea that everything is usable, reusable and unusable, and in a new work that my performance collective Whitney Hunter[MEDIUM] is creating entitled, “Everything is up for grabs, nothing is sacred,” this is the philosophy of the piece. This, philosophy, I hope, works to keep me alert and aware of my environment and the objects that fall into and collide with it. I have a nickname that my close friends know me by, “Bigeye.” This is attributed to my keen observation skills. Some might call it my habit of staring, but staring has such a negative connotation.
Could you please say a bit about David Driskell, himself, and his time with us at Spannocchia?
Our time with Dr. Driskell at Spannocchia was truly inspirational. It was wonderful to be able to talk to him about his first trips to West Africa, see his sketch journal from his travels nationally and internationally, and to see photos of his garden in Maine where he cultivates and harvests his herbs, fruits and vegetables. To introduce him for his lectures was anxiety ridden as I felt the pressure of presenting his biography in the best way possible in a very limited timeframe; he was gracious in later clarifying to me on a piece of biographical information, that I misrepresented. I feel a sense of pride to introduce myself as the 2013 Dr. David Driskell fellow, and as I said in introduction of Dr. Driskell, “I hope I make you proud.”