Who are your mentors? Who do you know personally that influences your work the most?
Mentors are so important! I'm a firm believer that finding one as an artist will shape not only the work we make but also everything from what we like to the way we defend our work. Mentors shape our growth as artists. Sometimes it is one mentor or a combination of many. And mentors come in all shapes and sizes in my opinion.
I was very blessed with my undergrad education in that almost every one of my studio professors became mentors to me. Georgetown College is a small private school and therefore, the art department is small and operates as a family.
Daniel Graham is GC's sculpture and printmaking professor and definitely had the most influence on me while in undergrad. He is a super interesting person and full of energy, constantly encouraging of others, and pushes to meet his high standards. We had great conversations together while I was a student there, and we still do. I keep in contact with Daniel and all the faculty there. Darrell Kincer is GC's photography and digital art professor and was an essential mentor in my undergrad career as well. Darrell was the calm to Daniel's energy. I could walk into Darrell's office and have a heart to heart conversation about where I'm going with my work and my life; as I could with Daniel, whereas Daniel would plant the big dreams, Darrell would ask the big questions that would make me think about which parts of my dreams where the most important to me. Between the two I would be asking myself what I wanted and why.
My work doesn't look like Daniel or Darrell's work but I am certainly influenced by them in thought process. Both of them instilled a sense of intentionality in me with consideration of my materials, process, imagery, etc. And to consider everything. I still look to these two mentors for approval when I am unsure of my direction. I know that I can email them or pop in at GC and have a conversation about my work (or life- because sometimes I need that too).
Lastly, at GC was the art historian and awesome woman Dr. Juliee Decker. This may sound crazy (remember I'm from SmallTown, USA) but Dr. Decker was the first woman I met that was established, married, and happy without children or the intention to have any children. Dr. Decker is strong willed, confident, sassy, so freaking smart, and amazing. I learned so much from her outside of just taking art history courses. I took extra art history classes just to pick up more life skills from Dr. Decker; the way she carries herself, thinks through a situation, and takes charge without making others feel inferior. My first semester at GC I was convinced I was going to transfer, Dr. D was the reason I stayed. She was the first person to reach out to me b/c I was in her Survey of Art History 1 class and she saw the potential in me.
Daniel, Darrell, and Dr. D are part of my art family and my real life mentors.
One of the challenges of graduate school is learning to have those conversations with yourself (and not in the crazy kind of way- but in the not crazy kind of way). I know what questions to ask myself about my own work but its difficult to hold myself accountable when I'm not verbally having the same discourse with another person. I'm getting better though in seeking out those people to have conversations with. I'm also relying more on the other graduate students (even though the number is small its still an important one). I'm glad that I have the faculty at GC to fall back on when I need free pep talks and help with the direction of my work.
I am a contemporary artist focused on the intersection of art and science in Lexington, KY.