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Local Artists Live: Milton Madison
June 27, 2020; 10:00 AM–10:30 AM CDT
For this weekend’s Local Artists Live featured artist Milton Madison, the Black culture he was brought up with and lives daily is not just part of his identity, but was a strong influence in his art. Milton grew up in Birmingham but has been a Montgomery-area local since 1995; he recalls visiting the capital city every Thanksgiving as a child to attend the Turkey Day Classic, a tradition for his and many other Black Southern families. Keeping to his roots and following in the footsteps of his family members, Milton went on to attend Alabama State University, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Arts.
Milton recalls having creative interests as a child but that he was limited in how he was able to express himself–mostly only through drawing, so he drew a lot. He remembers his first exposure or introduction to this foundational artform when his uncle showed him how to draw a Porsche 911 as a “penny racer” by using two pennies for the wheels. This vivid memory of an experience that Milton states, “Blew [his] mind!”, is what first set him on the path to making art. He also attributes his frequent reading of comic books in his youth for teaching him all that he knows, and even thought early-on that he would pursue a career as a cartoonist. His passion for comic books affected his career, resulting in his becoming a graphic designer; such connections can be identified by looking closely at his art.
Continue reading to find out more about Milton’s passions, influences, and how his culture is inherently intertwined with his art, and be sure to tune in on Saturday, June 27 at 10 AM, when Milton takes over the MMFA’s Instagram account for a behind-the-scenes look at his studio space and creations.
Left: Original artwork by Milton Madison
This program is part of the series:
Meet the Artist
What is your favorite thing about living in the South?
I definitely would have to say the culture. Oh, and the summers and mild winters although they didn’t used to be as mild as they are now. Some people don’t remember we really used to have real winter!!! Thanks, climate change. But most of all [my favorite thing is] the culture. The rich culture of our people and what they’ve persevered through: being the torchbearers for the Civil Rights struggles and the many changes they made that shook the world and helped shape change in this nation. I’m honored to stand on their shoulders and be someone who keeps the wheels of change going in the right direction for our people.
What excites you most about the growth of Montgomery’s art scene?
First of all–that we finally have one!!! That wasn’t always the case, or at least not for Black people. I’ve been here since 1995 so I’ve seen the needed change and waited desperately for it. It seemed like there was art here in the city, but it was always kinda like pretty flowers and cotton fields-type art.
What is your favorite work of art from the MMFA’s collection, and what specifically about the artwork speaks strongly to you?
I don’t have one specific artwork, but I really like the glass gallery with the skylight. I make sure to visit it every time I’m in the Museum, looking at how the light in that space spreads through the organic shapes of the glass and thinking about how glass can take on these forms.
What piece of art that you have created is your favorite, and why?
My OutKast piece, 2 dope Bois because of the memories that come to me when I think about the first time I heard [the Hip Hop duo] OutKast, me and my cousin in my granddad’s sky blue Cavalier being introduced to a new Hip Hop. I shared a lot of my special moments in Hip Hop with my cousin, and so when I see or hear OutKast I think about us. Their music helped shape the minds and cultures of young black men, especially in the South. It was all about our experiences and the things we were seeing. True pioneers in Hip Hop. So to admire them as much as I do and to be able to capture a pretty decent likeness of them, and to have executed a Hip Hop type feel with the graffiti and different styles of art that are represented in that piece…I’m really proud of it.
Do you have an all-time favorite work of art, and have you seen it in person?
No, but I would love to see the Sistine Chapel.
Tell us about your most preferred place to be on earth. What role, if any, does that place play in shaping you as an artist?
That’s a really good question. I don’t have a definite answer to that but I really enjoy Chicago. It has a very rich and diverse art scene that I admire. I’ll have to get back there one day so that I can take it all in. I really enjoy the beach as well; the sounds of the ocean are very relaxing and therapeutic. One of these days I’d like to visit New York for two or three weeks so I can just take in their art scene.
What drives your creativity?
My energy; energy drives my creativity. A lot of times I have to sit back and process what I’m feeling before I can create. My energy has to be right for me to create.
What is your preferred medium?
I guess I would have to say acrylics because that’s what I use most, but I also enjoy watercolors and drawing of course.
Do you listen to any particular music when you create?
Jazz and Hip Hop
What advice would you give to beginning artists?
Just try to surround yourself with as much art as you possibly can. Go to galleries, take in things that visually stimulate you, get online if you don’t have any galleries nearby. Go to Instagram and follow some artists, explore the world through your phone if you have to. Personal experiences are great to draw from. Just keep creating, and the opportunities to be seen and exposed as an artist are sure to come.