Dáreece Walker is a rising artist out in New York City by way of Colorado and he sat down with us to talk about how he got his start in art, who inspires him, and why he chose the highly distinctive materials of charcoal and cardboard for a lot of his work. He also discusses the impact New York has had on his work, what drew him to “protest” art, and upcoming shows he has in the works.
You can see everything he’s about and up to, over at his page on The Collectivv.
Getting my start in art’s kind of weird you know. For me, I always loved art even as like a kid, just coloring in the coloring book was art for me. But getting into art, I’d say started around my senior year in high school where I met a really cool teacher who helped me develop my skills for portrait rendering and classical training, so I got really good at drawing figures and drawing free hand without the use of a grid or like a projector and things like that. I pursued it from there basically.
CHARCOAL + CARDBOARD
Charcoal and cardboard is really fun, it’s a crazy material for me. The reason I use cardboard is because of it’s color, first of all I loved that it was a brown material, but also I found that I could empathize with the material being considered easily replaceable but easily found everywhere. It’s a crutch of the industry, you’ll find it all over the place, it’s usefulness and it’s un-usefulness. I thought it was a good reference for the black experience. But what it can do, what charcoal and cardboard can do that other mediums can’t do is you can dissect into these layers, the corrugation itself, you can peel it back and like you know render inside the material. You can do completely different things, you can mess with it, you can fold it, tear it, glue it together, you can basically make a drawing into a sculpture.
Choosing the topics of, sort of socio-political commentary and critique often associated with protest artwork, I do a lot of political things in my art making, but the reason I chose that was because I was really studying identity a lot at the beginning. I wanted to learn more about black people and why I was being treated a certain way, I wanted to look into the history of how black people were being treated and what these things meant for my current life and then it started bringing up issues of the past and issues of our time. Basically through self discovery I started to realize that I should get more involved in spreading awareness.
Moving to New York is amazing honestly. I’ve been here for a little over two years, two and a half years now, and I wouldn’t be the same artist now without New York so I’m very grateful. There’s a lot of things that have changed for me, picked up some style, but for the most part it sort of validated the hustle because everyone’s working so fast and moving, constantly moving, so moving here made me feel like the way I was working so hard was because I was gonna come to a place where everybody looked like they’re working hard. It wasn’t something I had to get accustomed to because I was already used to it.
Well the art community where I’m at right now is pretty crazy, it’s really interesting, you know everyday the art world gets smaller for me, it’s always like two degrees separation from somebody really really important…because I went to a New York art school I know a lot of other graduates from art schools all over New York, so I have a community of those people as friends but also professors and artists that are sort of mid-career, almost legendary artists of their time. Meeting them through course work and then meeting their colleagues, sort of going to shows like that. I have sort of like a close network…
That’s a tough question. If I had to think about the root of it, what inspired me the most was my mom at a young age. She always made sure I was doing very creative things for like science projects and things like that. My mom always made sure that I had this sort of visually interesting edge in terms of the rest of the class. I owe my mom a lot of my creativity and without her i couldn’t of become what I am today.
More than I’ve yet to accomplish, which is to be in many museums, I want to be in galleries across the world, basically creating discussions about history and the implications of those things in real life. Basically I think the thing’s that we go through here in the States can be translated to similar experiences across the world. I try to communicate what I think’s happening and hopefully it translates into you know different atmospheres.
Oh you have to be fearless to be an artist, without it you can call yourself an artist but are you really pushing yourself further. I think what fearless means to me is being ready for challenges and knowing they’re going to be difficult but going through those challenges to be better (even) if that same situation or an even worse on follows that. With art, you know art people are gonna be naysayers, they’re gonna hate your work, they’re gonna love your work so much and then still nothing may happen. It’s not always about just getting love, you wanna love yourself fearlessly, so take a chance on yourself.
I got a few things coming up next. I’ve got a really big show I’m getting ready for in Colorado, it’s gonna be at the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. Really excited about that actually, it’ll be back in the hometown. The other thing that I have going on is 60 Americans., it’s a group show that started in LA and it’s gonna be coming out to New York during Frieze Week.