Volume 9: AGENCY cover artist Eric Robinson spoke with Visual Art Editor Mollye Miller Shehadeh about what agency means to him, the impact of mentors, the power of the color yellow, and the ways in which new creative beginnings can inspire opportunity and ingenuity. Check out Eric's work, and the work of all our brilliant Vol. 9 visual artists, in our most recent issue.
Being seen in the light of fine art again has been a pleasant surprise, to say the least. Since graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA in Visual Communications, painting has been the longest-running medium to communicate and convey narratives visually effectively. In recent times, tattooing has become the medium to do so and has launched me into my career path as a tattooer and a painter. I apprenticed for two years from 2020-2022 under Richmond-based, figurative painter, Miguel Carter-Fisher. It was in working with him that I found my true passion for all art forms. As well as strengthened my technical and conceptual applications in oil painting and drawing. My paintings have been able to travel across America physically in multiple galleries, and globally in equivocal digital formats.
The Adroit Journal has been my most recent publication entry to date, with other notable mentions including The Richmond Times, and Not Real Art. My most honorable gallery experience comes from being exhibited in the Black Lives Matter Group Show, curated by Emily Smith and Francis Thompson. It marked my first major experience in the fine arts world, brought on by applying my mentor's methods. He taught me lessons in fine arts that went beyond painting on a canvas. From preparing for your solo show by hand, to the fundamental mindsets that carry you on in your journey as a creative. My emphasis on color, value, form, and the relationships of these in harmony, allows me to breathe pathos into my work.
In understanding the physical and chemical handling of traditional and contemporary oil painting mediums, I'm able to synthesize historical methods to give the impression that my paintings are very much "lived in." I build paint physically on the surface in thick layers to create form, while leaving the backgrounds otherwise hazed. The structure of the painting is relatively the same, having a monochromatic base with passes of color as the layers build. Keeping my value structure in check the entire time, I make sure my palette stays organized so that the process of color doesn't become more challenging. Careful passes of glazes bring life into the paintings, adjusting areas where need be. The paint is applied with natural hog filbert-shaped brushes for the personal sake of creating texture and being able to define shapes and forms. It is my sense of agency over all these elements that allows me to roam freely on any surface that I'm painting on. Before starting any painting, one of the first thoughts is how I would like for the painting to be read. After the process, the interpretation is up to the audience. The aforementioned elements all play a part in how each individual relates to or conveys the narrative. The agency reinforced in the technical handling of my paintings is the only sense of the word remaining with me at that point and it's within that I can find interest in the reception from others on multiple levels.
The paintings "Undermine", Dante's Remnants", "Aphrodite's Acolyte", "Cruel Sunrise", and "Ego Death", are some of the last works of what I had considered the end of my career as a painter. Despite the former doubt, the structure remained the same throughout, knowing that even with a shift, it would never be my last painting. To be able to still be recognized as a fine artist means everything and more to me. I've since found a new sense of agency in how I represent myself as a creative overall. What I thought was the end of my painting career, was actually the expansion of my creative career.
Tattoo work on Instagram: @tattsbyyourstruly
Fine art work on Instagram: @eric.robinson
Mollye Miller Shehadeh (Fatal Flaw Visual Art Editor) is a documentary portrait and street photographer with an MFA in poetry (The New School, 2009). Joyful, sad, uplifting and everything between, Mollye’s approach to photography is like it is to poetry: she takes in emotions and turns them into images. Mollye has had photographs up at the Chesapeake Arts Center in Baltimore and at Photoville photography Festival in New York City. Her poems have appeared in Paperbag, Prerlude, and Stop Sharpening Your Knives (SSYK), a UK poetry anthology. See her photography at mollyemiller.com. She lives in Baltimore with her husband, stepkids, two cats, and her dog Zuri.