Eric McRay | Men at Art | Black Issues Forum | UNC-TV

Eric McRay | Men at Art | Black Issues Forum | UNC-TV


♪ ERIC.>>GOOD MORNING. %
>>NICE TO MEET YOU.>>GOOD TO SEE YOU. WELCOME TO McRAY STUDIOS.>>THANK YOU VERY MUCH. AND YOU SAID THAT YOU WERE GOING
TO CLEAN UP.>>YES.>>YOUR STUDIO IS VERY NEAT AND
TIDY. WHAT DID IT LOOK LIKE BEFORE
THIS?>>UH, NO COMMENT. [LAUGHING]
>>THIS IS A RANGE OF WORKS THAT I CREATE, MY MIXED MEDIA
COLLAGES, MY ACRYLICS ON CANVAS, ACRYLICS ON PAPER, DIFFERENT
THEMES AND SERIES THAT I HAVE WORKED ON. I TEND TO WORK IN — ON THINGS
SUCH AS JAZZ, ICONOGRAPHY, AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE, NORTH
CAROLINA IMAGERY. SO I KIND OF HAVE A RANGE OF
STYLE AND IMAGERY I MOVE BACK AND FORTH THROUGH. BUT IT’S KIND OF FUNDAMENTALLY
ALL BROUGHT TOGETHER BY MY USE OF COLOR. I USE COLOR TO COMMUNICATE
EMOTION AS WELL AS THE SPIRIT OF THE INDIVIDUAL. ON TWO ENDS OF MY STUDIO ARE
LARGE SCALE COLLAGES, AND THIS ONE IS CALLED BUDDY’S PRIDE AND
JOY. MY GRANDFATHER WAS A FARMER IN
ROBESON COUNTY, SO THIS KIND OF ADDRESSES MY HERITAGE AS A NORTH
CAROLINIAN, EVEN THOUGH I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN WASHINGTON,
D.C., AND FROM MY EXPLORATIONS AND TRAVELS THROUGH NORTH
CAROLINA, I’D ALWAYS SEE THESE OLD TOBACCO BARNS THAT INITIALLY
I HATED WHEN I CAME AS A CITY KID, AND I GREW TO UNDERSTAND
WHAT THEY REPRESENTED AND THE HISTORY AND REALIZED HOW
BEAUTIFUL THEY WERE. AND THEN I WOULD SEE FOLKS WHO
WOULD — FOLKS — WHO WOULD ADORN —
>>FOLKS. WE’RE IN NORTH CAROLINA.>>YEAH, FOLKS WHO WOULD ADORN
THESE TOBACCO BARNS WITH DIFFERENT KINDS OF OLD SIGNAGE. ONCE AGAIN, ICONS, AMERICANA.>>WHAT DO YOU CALL THIS
COLLECTION HERE? AND WHAT’S THE THEME?>>WELL, MY — MY HEART SERIES,
I GUESS THAT’S THE EASIEST TITLE. MY INITIAL EXHIBITION WAS CALLED
100 HEARTS, AND WHAT I WANTED TO DO WAS TAKE AN ICON THAT PEOPLE
WERE IMMEDIATELY FAMILIAR WITH, BUT THEN SHOW IT IN A FASHION
THEY’VE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE, SO WHAT I’VE DONE IS WOVEN IMAGES
OF THINGS I’VE PAINTED IN THE PAST, SUCH AS THIS KRISPY KREME
OR MY JAZZ THEMES OR SOME POP ART IMAGERY LIKE MICKEY MOUSE,
THE SUNFLOWER IMAGES, WHICH WERE INSPIRED BY MY MOTHER, AND ALL
THESE THINGS I’VE KIND OF WOVEN INTO THESE PIECES. INITIALLY THERE WAS A HUNDRED
AND THEN BEFORE YOU KNOW IT I HAD PAINTED OVER A PERIOD OF
TIME ABOUT 200 OF THESE. I HAD AN EXHIBITION AT NORTH
CAROLINA CENTRAL’S MUSEUM, AND THEY HAD A RETROSPECTIVE OF MY
CAREER, AND DR. ROGERS THERE TITLED ME A CONTEMPORARY
MODERNIST. WELL, THEN AFTER I READ THE BOOK
THAT HE WROTE ABOUT MY CONTRIBUTION TO ART, I
UNDERSTOOD WHAT HE WAS SAYING, THAT BASICALLY THAT I WORK
PRODUCE IS ALL INFLUENCED BY THE WORKS OF ARTISTS BETWEEN THE
MID-1800s TO THE 1960s, AND THAT WAS CONSIDERED THE MODERNIST
PERIOD. SO THE RANGE OF WORKS I PRODUCE
KIND OF MOVE BACK AND FORTH THROUGH THOSE DIFFERENT THEMES
AND SUBJECTS AND STYLES AND IMPACTS ON THE ART WORLD. SO I USE ALL THOSE THINGS I’VE
EDUCATED MYSELF WITH AS VEHICLES, AS TOOLS, TO
COMMUNICATE IDEAS. SO IF I’M PAINTING A JAZZ
MUSICIAN, I’M GOING TO PAINT HIM IN A FASHION WHERE YOU HEAR THAT
MUSIC. YOU CAN SEE THE INVISIBLE. YOU’RE GOING TO FEEL THAT MUSIC. YOU’RE GOING TO HEAR THAT MUSIC. I PRIMARILY WORK IN ACRYLIC
PAINT. IT’S FAST, CLEAN, AND IT’S
EFFICIENT. IT’S VERSATILE. IT DOES EVERYTHING I NEED IT TO
DO. IT — IT’S LIKE MAGIC TO ME. YOU KNOW, IT — IT’S JUST
WONDERFUL. ROBERT MOTHERWELL SAID THE
INTELLIGENT ARTIST KEEPS THE HISTORY OF ART IN THEIR HEAD. SO IN SOME WAYS I’VE KIND OF
FILED AWAY ALL THESE IMAGES, ALL THESE CONCEPTS. THEY’RE IN MY HEAD. AND THAT’S A LIFETIME OF
READING, EDUCATION, SELF-EDUCATION, FORMAL
EDUCATION. I HAVE A DEGREE IN ART. I’VE STUDIED ART. I’VE WORKED PROFESSIONALLY AS AN
ARTIST FOR A GOOD PORTION OF MY LIFE. IT’S MY VOCATION, MY — MY GREAT
OBSESSION, MY CALLING IN LIFE. IT’S WHAT I AM. IT’S WHAT I DO. RIGHT NOW I’M USING THE END OF
THE BRUSH AS A DRAWING INSTRUMENT, SO NOW THIS IS
CALLED SGRAFFITO. IT’S AN ITALIAN TERM. ANYWAY, YOU’RE SCRATCHING BACK
INTO THE PAINT, AND YOU’RE SEEING THE LAYERS OF THINGS
BENEATH THE WET PAINT I APPLIED. SO NOW I’M KIND OF ADDING WHAT
YOU CALL THAT SIZZLE. SO NOW WHAT I’M DOING IS ADDING
THESE MARKS INTO THE WET PAINT.>>SO WE GET THE SIZZLE.>>YEAH, THAT’S THE SIZZLE. [LAUGHING]

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