"Vulnerable" Series - A.I.R. Studio Paducah

Vulnerable

 

Below, is the complete set of self-portraits done during my residency at:

A.I.R. Studios of Paducah, KY. (7.2-7.16.18)

Each Self-Portrait was made with charcoal pencil, washes of ink, and colored chalk pastel. They are all approximately 25 x 27" in size, and (shown below) accompanied by the letters I wrote to my grandfather.

 

The Letters I wrote to him reflect the two weeks leading up to his passing. They were intended to accompany the portraits they stood next to, but also were a response on my part. A written response to the reflections I was making internally as I swallowed the pain and mustered the courage to finish this series. It was so hard to keep attention to the task at hand during tragedy, and as you can see the dates of execution of portraits, Phase 1 and Phase 2, took many days. They hold a nucleus of raw response I was having internally, but also gave understanding to my pose and gaze within each portrait.

This Residency tested me; It tested my faith, my emotions, my family, my skillsets, and my studio practice. The circumstances around these past two weeks, made my journey the toughest stretch in life I have ever experienced on my own. However, I learned valuable lessons quickly; I learned to restore faith in your neighbors, to embrace change, to stay positive during tragedy - and (eventually) take the opportunity to reflect on those experiences through ANY form of art. One side of the coin is the process of grieving, but the other side of the coin is obtaining the chance to reflect, express, and learn from what you're feeling. Both pieces are equally vital.

He was my rock, my best friend, and my guiding light as a young man and as a professional. I will always hold those memories of happiness together, at the forefront of what I do.

 

Phase 1: July 1-July 4

How is it that you see me? Do I give you the sense that I am far from home, or do I give the impression I have grown up here. Do I spew confidence like few can, or do I seem to fold like a cheap tent. As I sit here inches above you I get to judge. To be the one behind your screen and in a cloud. I get to be the gaze on the wall casting from afar in hopes to cover up my feelings of

...Vulnerability.

 

 

Phase 2: July 5-July 10

    As the world feels at a standstill, I struggle to focus. I feel a struggle to keep direction, a clear mind or even sanity at best. I gave my grandfather everything: My time, my love, my affection, and my helping hand. He was my best friend in life and always will be. Once I meet him in the sky I’ll be able to tell him, face to face, how much he meant to myself and others. How much he meant to my friends, my childhood, and the betterment of the people in his community.

    Until then, I will spend every waking day thinking of you and looking forward to the day that our family can reunite with one another. I have no choice but to let the pain of mourning a loss run its course and try to muster the courage to return home safely. As my mind is in shambles, I have no one to comfort me. It is truly dark in here even with all the world’s lights on.

 

 

Phase 3: July 11

    Head back on its pivot. I had buried the hatchet at home and rid myself of as much pain as I could feel losing my best friend. Now as I return to silence, it has gone from being melancholy to nurturing. With a deep breath, chin up, and feet down on the floor - I look out the front windows with a new feeling in my heart.

    I now remember what his wishes are for me.

 

 

Phase 4: July 12- July 13

    Coming home brought me to a state of temporary comfort. With every passing hour after he passed, I find it slightly more doable to manage through my future. However, as I sit here, (battered but unbroken) I gain anxiety knowing I will have to conjure the fortitude to carry the weight of life when I return home. With so many moving parts, it scares me to believe that I have been relatively LUCKY up to this point. And with tragedy just being another fact of life, I start to recalibrate life’s expectations ever so slightly.

Rhapsody in Blue may have a second verse...

 

 

Phase 5: July 14- July 15

    Saturday, 9am.

Sitting in the coffee shop, I watch all the people inside and outside enjoy their mornings together. This is what it is all about. I sit here isolated knowing what I come home to.

    But that is okay. The mountains have been climbed in my mind. I come back to the valley, on even footed ground. When I stare above, it is nothing but clear blue skies.

Clear blue skies.

 

 

 

 

 

With that I want to give a special thanks to Alonzo Davis, Michael Terra, and Tanya Gadbaw for reaching out and helping me during my time in need. I also want to thank the people of the Lowertown Arts District for welcoming me in to their community with open arms. Wonderful studios, galleries, and organizations run by caring people who do great work.