Curate 757

S5 E11 | FULL EPISODE

Hampton Boyer

The Contemporary Arts Network in Newport News recently featured artist Hampton Boyer, a figurative painter and self-taught artist, who creates graphics, paintings and murals.

AIRED: April 21, 2021 | 0:08:14
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TRANSCRIPT

- [Hampton] I was born in Pittsburgh.

My mom was homesick and so we moved down to Newport News.

I wasn't good at sports, so I picked up skateboarding

and through that outlet, I was exposed to independence.

Going to the skate shop it was like going to an art show.

All these different companies have different graphics.

And so that's imagery that is soaked into my mind.

My high school years when I started to go skateboard more

and the appetite of being a professional skateboarder

was like more of like, that's what I wanted to do

but everyone has that pipe dream.

Once I realized I was gonna have a hard time

skating professionally,

I geared more into artwork.

I got heavy into painting

as if it was my job or my life depended on it.

I just hit the ground running.

And the universe kind of opened up.

My friend, John is in town.

He was like, "Yo, I'm starting to gallery."

"And I want you to be the first show."

And I just was like, so hyped.

At that time I was just the artist

who was just trying to be an artist without any

concept of art history or form or composition.

This is kind of outsider art.

I had to learn the enjoyment that you get

from seeing other people respond well

to something that you make.

And so that moment helped me

with my confidence of being an artist.

The bird was a doodle that turned into something

that I was doing like on a repetitive motion

It spoke to like birds of a feather flock together.

So I made this character that had his own crazy wings.

- [woman] I know it sounds silly dear,

but do it for me please.

- That prompts, isolation,

and feeling like you're not part of the masses

but it also promoted individuality and expression of self.

You might see a bird holding a peace pipe

or having a six-pack.

Until I realized the bird was vicariously me.

I was drawing out a lot of frustration,

how you fit in with the world around you.

I had this idea for fully-charged paradise

and fully-charged paradise was a narrative

of how the bird came to be.

My friends Travis, Chad, and Gary

sonically helped me put this vision together.

And we ended up doing an exhibition

at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center.

They performed the music.

I got in the bird outfit.

And we had dancers and it was a real celebration.

After I brought the bird to life,

I started to gravitate away from it

because I felt that it was going to box me in

as a certain type of artist.

The name of this painting is called Catapult.

We had just got a dog.

Everything was cool for a while.

And then every time we would leave the house

we would experience her starting to act kind of frantic.

And so it remind me of the feeling

of how it felt when I lost my mother.

My mom is my best, best, best, best, best friend.

She just was a huge supporter

for everything that I was doing.

She had breast cancer and then she went into remission.

And then about a year or so later, her cancer has come back.

That was like a really tough time for me

just because she knew how much I have more to learn.

My brother called me and he was like,

"Mom took her last breaths."

And I just couldn't really feel anything.

That safety net that was provided

once it was cut from underneath of me,

I had to realize where I was in the world.

After experiencing a loss like that,

I was able to cherish those moments of life.

That created a new limit for me.

I wanted all my artwork

to be gigantic in concept and execution.

I felt that I could no longer,

as an African-American artist,

do something that didn't talk about racism

and these systemic backwards mentalities that we have

and this oppression.

That body of work those were like my first real paintings.

I just had to touch on subjects that meant a lot to me.

I'm a part of an avant-garde hip-hop group

called Tunny Crew.

We're writing a new record called Black Spirituals.

Black Spirituals is a three-part project.

One part of it is a concept album,

another is a walkthrough of the album.

And then third is the film.

It's a coming to age tale

of four young black boys who are lured in

into this fantastical world,

where we look at avenues within black culture,

that we face.

♪ To get you the cash. ♪

♪ The cash that you could spend so free. ♪

We prepared the walkthrough version

where the viewers will become the first person

or the main character.

You really get the feeling of being in that space.

♪ Stephanie told me now you in trouble. ♪

To write a story like this with my friends

is something special.

Ace it, worked really hard, path, killed it.

And I feel like I grew a lot in this project.

Everyday seems so full.

Dude, I don't know whether to be the artist

or if I should curate the next show or write a new song.

Because yo, I cried and I done sweated

and I did fought for this.

And it's a dream come true.

(rap music playing)

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