Today we’d like to introduce you to Russell Boyle.
Russell, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
Originally from Detroit, MI, I’m a Brooklyn based mixed media artist and performer. I moved to New York in 1995 to fully branch out as a human being and artist. Since I was a child I longed to escape what I considered to be an oppressive state of mind in Michigan. Though I flourished more in college, I was very much conflicted by my strict fundamental Christian upbringing, those values repeatedly clashed with my sexual identity, which was, of course, frowned down upon by the church. I felt like I was living a double life and increasingly became dislocated from the family of friends I had always cherished. I didn’t believe I could evolve as a true individual there and New York was the only place I wanted to be.
Though my love for the stage burned brightly, I soon became disenchanted by the theatre business, and committed more to drawing and painting with periodic excursions into drag, acting and directing. I had a dream of unconventionally sustaining myself so I could have the means and time to fully dive into my work as an artist (any kind of artist) and so with my (then) partner in 2006 I opened a vintage furniture and curiosity shop which I curated as an on-going found object installation. It was quite magical and became a well-known little business noted for playing hosts to local artists with bi-monthly themed art shows and salons. 12 years later I am still running the shop and though it has become a more brass-tacks midcentury retail environment due to escalating rents in the city, it is still the primary place where I create and exhibit the majority of my work (with others) today.
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I am obsessed with excavating multiple personalities in my work. I would prefer to do this in oils primarily, but because of my small business I have devoted my down time in the shop to focus more on illustrative drawing in graphite and ink as opposed to painting. Those mediums are more easily managed in the environment I create in. My work is mostly figurative, often highlighting the horror, beauty and inevitable decay of youth in an increasingly violent society but I’m also fascinated with the interior struggles of individual sexuality, my work pushes through shame and excavates the surviving, sensual spirit that lies beneath the mortal facade. Motivated by the idea that the human body and its psyche is resilient as it is fragile, akin to the plastic shell of a vintage composition doll longing to be cherished for what it is yet discarded over time for what it can never become, my work attempts to dive into the fear of the human condition emerging to celebrate the stories and memories of lives that others might prefer were forgotten.
Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
There was a time when Instagram changed the game of exposure for the better, but with all of the algorithm issues it’s not as perfect as it once was or could be. I enjoyed a tremendous lift of interest in my work because of that platform a few years ago but overtime things have appeared to level off. Cities have become increasingly more difficult places to sustain as an artist. Soaring rents and surge of corporate real estate has made space tremendously difficult to come by. We need more supportive institutions in place to help artists thrive economically, whether that be offering studio space or broadening a sense of community, I’m not certain.
It’s a competitive world, and everyone has their particular tastes and requirements. Like everything else, the art community has become more about trends than true self-expression. It would be wonderful if cities and artists alike were more focused on supporting the values of the latter. I know so many wonderfully prolific and talented artists who for whatever reason are snubbed by galleries and clients alike because their work is not “interior design” friendly enough. In my opinion, people need more conversation on their walls and less peonies.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I usually always hang select pieces in the shop, but the majority of work is on exhibit in my studio in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. Most recently I have shown at the Superfine! Art Fair in New York and have an upcoming group show at the Hue Gallery in Wichita, KS as part of their International Invitational entitled “I Am Me and We Are Free” opening September 28, 2018. People can support my work by viewing my website or Instagram account @RussellBoyleArt. On the site there is also an on-line shop where I offer choice works for purchase. Prices of all showcased works on my website are also available by request. In the future I plan on dedicating myself more to submitting to galleries. Representation is a goal.
- Address: 285 Putnam Ave #2, Brooklyn, NY 11222
- Website: http://www.russellboyleart.com
- Phone: 1-347-512-8472
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: russellboyleart
- Facebook: Russell Boyle Art