Artist Highlight – H. C. Porter
H.C. Porter is an award-winning artist, whose original works of art are classified as mixed-media because they incorporate photography, printmaking and painting. They begin as black and white “environmental portraits” and are transferred onto paper with black ink using a silkscreen. Each piece is completed using acrylic paint and Prismacolor. Each piece is uniquely painted, although the same image may be used more than once.
Porter’s style began in 1992 with “Avenue for Art,” a grant-funded neighborhood art project for children. Porter eventually incorporated the neighborhood children into her work. Since, she has applied her style to other areas of the state, documenting the lives of fellow Mississippians. In September 2005, two weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Porter’s attention turned toward the people of her home state living in the aftermath of that devastating storm.
1) When did you realize you were meant to be an artist?
I have known I wanted to be an artist since the second grade. I also wanted to be a ventriloquist however I was a very poor ventriloquist so I think I made the right career choice. I studied art in high school and college and started my studio in my home town in Jackson Mississippi in 1987. My mother was my biggest influence on my desire to become an artist. She was also a painter, although not professionally, she always shared the things she learned with me.
2) What’s your best advice for an upcoming artist?
You have to find your own line, and to do that, it takes the act of creating. Through that process you can be inspired by other artists, by the environment around you, but ultimately to know where you are going as an artist, you have to find your own starting place. You can’t copy someone else’s work.
3) Why are art galleries important to communities?
Art helps us understand ourselves and the people around us. It helps is to experience the unique perspective of an artist. It enriches our lives and communities. We access that art through local galleries or museums. You might be fortunate to have more galleries in your area that represent different artists that have a unique perspective. You can be inspired to create your own work, to live with it, to purchase it. As one of my trailer bumper stickers say,”Life without Art is stupid.”
4) What’s next for H.C. Porter?
My current project is Blues at Home, a multimedia exhibition of mixed media paintings and oral histories featuring thirty living, Mississippi born, blues legends. The exhibition premiered at The University of Mississippi’s University Museum in Oxford, MS in April this year. After a highly successful opening and four month exhibition, Blues at Home reopened at The B.B. King Museum in Indianola, MS on August 21st, where the exhibition is currently showing until October 2nd. Next year I have the opportunity to work with the city of Waveland, Mississippi, to create a permanent exhibition of my 2008 hurricane Katrina project, titled Backyards and Beyond: Mississippians and Their Stories. This exhibit will be part of the new Waveland Ground Zero Hurricane Museum.www.wavelandgroundzero.com
Artist Statement: “My work has emotional conviction and represents Southern experience that often evokes strong responses. My paintings are successful when the viewer completes the piece with a response…give yourself the freedom to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice and you will complete my work.
“The MAEC is working hard to highlight Mississippi’s creative souls. By keeping our many talented artists in the spotlight, you are helping to contradict Mississippi’s outdated stereotypes. Our creative spirit is alive, well and flourishing in the state that loves to celebrate eccentricity, talent and vision.”