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Local Artists Live: Darius Hill
December 12, 2020; 10:00 AM–10:30 AM CST
Our special edition of Local Artists Live featuring Birmingham-area artists kicks off this Saturday, December 12, with multimedia creative Darius Hill. Darius is originally from Birmingham, or the Magic City, and he resides there today with his own family. His artistic journey began in high school at the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA), then took him to the Atlanta College of Art (ACA) for a BFA in printmaking, and finally back home to The University of Alabama, where he received his MFA in studio art.
Mentorship has been a definitive factor in Darius’ life, both for his personal transformation to becoming an artist and in his career as an arts educator. Darius returned to ASFA as a teacher in 1999, and he is the current Chair of the Visual Arts Department, a strong indicator of how important his time as a student was to him at the school. Darius did not receive formal art lessons until he enrolled at ASFA in 9th grade, and he considers that to be when everything changed. “It was at ASFA where I decided to be a studio artist. I was fortunate enough to have very good instructors, such as Jim Neel…who changed the way I saw the world by opening my mind to possibilities I didn’t know existed. When I discovered a power of sorts within the creative process, centered around risk/reward and discovery itself, I never looked back.” Demonstrating the power of an arts education, Darius remembers a specific field trip to Neel’s studio and how that experience both solidified his decision to become an artist and shaped how he approaches teaching, “as a producing artist first and teaching by example.”
After ASFA, Darius attended ACA, where he was able to learn yet again from skillful artists who impacted his journey—this time namely Larry Anderson. Anderson’s mentorship encouraged Darius to “push [his] work conceptually and to not be afraid to put it out into the world.” Darius recalls the fear that was initially attached to such vulnerability, but then also the rewards that followed: exhibiting and selling works and winning awards on a professional level before even finishing college. Such experiences gave him confidence in his abilities as an artist and the knowledge that he could expand his passion into a profession.
Tune in this Saturday at 10 AM when Darius goes live from the MMFA’s Instagram page and gives us a special, behind-the-scenes view of his artwork, shares about his process as an artist, and his passion for arts education.
Above left: Darius Hill, Weighs a Ton, 2019, mixed media on paper, 15 x 15 inches
This program is part of the series:
Meet the Artist
What is something you appreciate about life in the South?
The South appeals to my sensibilities—the colors, the smells, the taste, the overall warmth. The knowing and feeling that, like art, the South is a work in progress!
What is your favorite work of art from the MMFA’s collection, and what specifically about the artwork speaks strongly to you?
One of the many works that I enjoy seeing at MMFA is Jaehyo Lee’s Standing Donut because it appeals to my personal sensibilities. Lately, I am all about monochromatic color, wood, and circles. And I love donuts too!
What piece of art that you have created is your favorite, and why?
I don’t know if I have a work that I created that I can call my favorite. Because I work in series, my work itself can represent time much like the rings of a tree—a symbol of my state of mind during a particular period. For me, each of those periods are vital because one could not exist without the other!
Do you have an all-time favorite work of art, and have you seen it in person? How did you feel in that moment?
Again, I’m not sure I have a favorite of anything; but I am a fan of Picasso’s Guernica. This is a painting that is known for many things such as moving viewers to tears. I have been fortunate to see it in person several times in Madrid, Spain. Seeing the painting certainly made an impact; although I did not weep like the person I witnessed near me.
Tell us about your most preferred place to be on Earth. What role, if any, has the energy of that place helped shape you as an artist?
Another tricky question, but again Spain stands out in my travels, Córdoba in particular. I have always been enamored with the seamless blend of organic and geometric forms used to create Yoruba tribal masks and shields, but it was after a trip to Southern Spain when I noticed geometry and symmetry developing in my work. I began to utilize patterns and floral-like compositions in the work. My compositions became more about creating a rhythmic flow.
What drives your creativity?
What’s really cool is that the thing that hooked and reeled me 40 years ago is the thing that drives me now—that rush rooted in the process of risk, reward, and discovery.
What is your preferred medium?
I do not have a preferred medium. For me, one medium determines my next move, and so on. I have had monoprints that led to sculpture and sculpture that led to painting. Like Kiki Smith, I go where the wind blows me.
Do you listen to any particular music when you create?
Not really, I generally don’t listen to music unless I’m working on an “auto-pilot” portion of a given project.
What advice would you give to beginning artists?
Work hard and be fearless in your approach!
What actions might we take in the state of Alabama to grow our appreciation of art and encourage creativity in our youth?
Simple. Truly adopt the belief that art is vital! Make a substantial commitment of time and money to arts education in every Alabama classroom!