alumni profile

When did you graduate? What was your degree?
I graduated in December 2014. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

What was your major and concentration? If you had a minor, what was it?
My major was in Studio Arts. I had a concentration in painting, but I also did photography, sculpture and music. If I had a minor, it would have been African American history.

Why did you choose your major?
I have always been an artist, so I felt it was the natural thing to do. I grew up drawing and creating music and short amateur films,
so I always knew whatever I did with my life would relate to the arts. I just didn't know to what degree.

Why did you choose the U of M?
Honestly, after high school I didn't think I could get into college. I didn't really know much about the process of going to college and had a lot of doubt in myself. I applied to a few schools, but Memphis offered more financial aid than the others, so I decided to go here. It had a lot to do with how much my mother could afford.

Which professor had the greatest impact on you? Why?
I really can't pick just one. Chuck Johnson, Beth Edwards, Greely Myatt, Jed Jackson and Coriana Close all helped me in ways that I'll never be able to express. They all saw potential in me that I didn't even see in myself. They worked with me and pushed me to be the best artist I could be. I came to the university with very limited skills and left with the knowledge and skills to create almost anything I can think of in nearly every art concentration. I owe all of my advances creatively the last few years to God and these amazing professors. In class and out of class they took the time to talk with me and expose me to what I needed to reach the levels I wanted. These professors as well as Laurie Snyder, assistant to the dean for undergraduate programs, helped me get to this point. They still help me today. What do you know now that you wished you knew as a student? I wish I knew that things would get better.
I spent a lot of time stressed and worried about my future and if this was really my purpose in life. I wish had known the path I had to follow, but I guess that's a part of the journey—not knowing the path. 

What experience did you gain as a student that prepared you for your career?
I think that knowing how to put together an exhibition and prepare my work for galleries has been very valuable to me. I was doing a lot of exhibitions during my time as a student, so the things I was learning in class I would take and apply to my career. I think this helped me get to the place I am now where I have certain opportunities that are rare for someone my age.

What is your current job?
I am a professional artist and a musician. I've been showing my work in a lot of the main galleries in the Mid-South as well as a lot of solo exhibitions. I've also been releasing full length albums and doing performances that include art installations in the city. I spend my days in the art studio painting and getting ready for exhibitions. I'm also working on albums for a future release. I'm working on getting my work shown in galleries in New York and Los Angeles, as well as a possible record deal for the music side of things. I'm just trying to take my art career as far as it can possibly go. I'm not sure what that will be, but I'm just going to try for it. I want to be in the Museum of Modern Art in New York one day.

Are you in the career you envisioned for yourself as a student? If not, what did you think you'd be doing?
I'm on the way. I see things for myself I am getting close to reaching. It took me a while, but I feel that my dreams and goals are getting closer. If not an artist, I'd be an African American history teacher at a historically black college like Howard University or Hampton.

What is most rewarding about your job?
Being able to create every day of my life is the best job I could ever ask for. I just want to be able to make a living making art and create without worrying about limits, such as money and space.

What are your hobbies?
I play basketball and skateboard, but most of my time is spent working on either visual art or music.

How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?
Keeping healthy is hard. I will admit I'm not always the healthiest person due to working so hard. I forget to eat sometimes. I think I spent too much time not taking care of my body when I was younger, so now that I'm getting older and working so much it's catching up. As far as life balance, it just takes keeping people around you who support and understand your career, which isn't a high number. Sometimes being a loner works for the best. It allows for more time to create.

What is your proudest achievement?
My senior BFA exhibition was really special to me. Not only due to the body of work and what it meant to me, but because of the journey it took to get there. There were many times when I couldn't get enough money for the next semester or didn't think I'd make it to graduation. So to make it and grow so much as an artist meant a lot to me. It was an emotional moment for me as well as members of the art department staff who helped me along the way.

If they made a move about your life, who would play you?
I'm not sure if he's alive yet. I can't think of any young black actors that look like me. He probably some young undiscovered talent in a small town somewhere. I think it would be better that way.

How would you like to be remembered?
When my life is over and I create everything I plan on creating, I'd like to be remembered as one of the best and most influential of artists. I always used to say I wanted to be one of the artists that people study in art school. I want to influence younger artists the way I was influenced by artists like Andy Warhol, Robert Frank and Glenn Ligon.