“Boston does mean a lot to me because the city was the dividing line between who I was and who I am now.”
Can you tell me about your background?
I was born and raised in Memphis, TN and lived there until I was 25. I attended the University of Memphis in that time and graduated with a BFA. I had a focus in photography at the time but blended photographic transfers with painting for my thesis exhibition. I got accepted the MFA program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and never knew I’d end up in the north. I never knew how much I would love the northeast.
Can you share an unforgettable story happened during your live in Boston?
You know, I have a plethora of unforgettable stories that happened in Boston from the good, the bad, the ugly and the absolutely beautiful. The two years of grad school were two of the best years of my life. I not only made amazing, life-long friends but met such talented professors that I admire and have learned so much from.
Back to the unforgettable story…. The ones that pop into my head the most would involve hanging out at Revere Beach the whole summer with Bosnians, watching the sunrise and sunset almost every night from the 17th floor of an apartment balcony with the most perfect view of the beach and drinking I don’t know how many bottles of Jack Daniels, playing poker and partying like there was no tomorrow and then jumping in the ocean in the early morning. This was the summer that I also made a ton of amazing artwork in the steaming hot studio where I would have to grab bags of ice to store in the freezer just to have a cup of it by my side to constantly rub all over me to cool off. I’m sure that studio got well over 100 degrees.
Another unforgettable story would be how I was freaking out about 2 months before my thesis exhibition for SMFA and I wasn’t feeling strongly about what I had just yet. Then I basically let it all out with no restrictions and made some of the best work I’ve ever made. One night I stayed up to see what I could manifest on a 120”x210” canvas. I had this whole room that we called a share space at the time (not sure if it’s still used as a share space) but I took it over that night and worked on this mastodon sized painting for 15 hours straight. To this day, that painting that I titled “Fault Line” is the masterpiece of my lifetime. I created that painting with having the New Madrid Fault line in mind, because it’s well overdue and will cause my hometown, Memphis, to be a huge lake when it hits. Memphis will be no more and the New Madrid Earthquake will divide the US in half. It’s 6x larger than the San Andreas fault. It’s also important to know that there’s 15 nuclear reactors along the New Madrid fault line- which means that when the earthquake strikes, we can expect a Fukushima times 15.
Who/what was inspired you to become the person you are today?
I would definitely say that my mom and dad were and still are inspirations for becoming who I am today. Growing up, the upstairs room was my dads studio and I would go in there a lot to see what he was working on. He’s a painter as well and at the time used a lot of airbrush but these days works in mainly acrylic. I would get to try all types of mediums at a young age and was fascinated at what you can create with it all. The possibilities are endless and you can go any direction you wish- there’s so much freedom. A multitude of inspiration comes from other artists- Wangechi Mutu I constantly look at, Kara Walker, Gerhar Richter, Jackie Saccoccio is one of my absolute idols, Kehinde Wiley, among so many others.
Do you have any story funny, touching, or important to you that you’d like to share with us?
I do have one- While being in the MFA program, I met someone who I would consider a sister- I immediately clicked with her and she became one of my best friends- one of those friends that if you went a while without speaking, you just simply pick up where you left off without any bad feelings. She was battling brain cancer for years before I even met her and passed away in August. She had a rare, aggressive brain cancer but she was one of the toughest, bravest, most beautiful people I’ve ever known. I’ll never forget Katherine Romero. I think about her every day!
What are your passions in life?
My passions are definitely on the broader spectrum. I have intense passions for painting, music, comedy shows, geology, cosmology, etc. I also have a passion and love for anything fulfilling to the senses.
What does Boston mean to you?
Boston does mean a lot to me because the city was the dividing line between who I was and who I am now. I grew stronger in so many ways: in my art practice, mentally, physically, emotionally. It’s the city where I made some of my best paintings, made the closest friends, networked like crazy, partied heavily and just became more of who I am. Boston is my city of experimentation, research and figuring out what and why I do what I do. Even though I live in Brooklyn, NY now, I still miss Boston and can’t wait to take a trip there soon.