Today I am very excited to introduce Abernathy Bland, artist, blogger, and an inspiration to
anyone attempting to step out on a limb a little too far with a blindfold on in pursuit of their
one true love. I preface this by saying that this is a long interview, but it is absolutely worth
reading every word and stalking Abby afterwards:
|"Art is Dangerous" & "Because I Believe"|
1. Please tell us a little bit about what you do.
"I am a tight rope walker. Maybe that isn’t entirely factual, but it feels true. I am in a
constant artistic pursuit sans net. This is because I believe in the power of art. And the power
of trying. I don't have a day job to fall back on, I am an artist. When people ask what I do...
that is my answer. My puppets and paint buckets have been trekking from my Virginia studio
to New York since 2006 where I work as a collaborator with Old Kent Road Theater, a
Brooklyn-based experimental theater company. My drawings travel too. I will put my work
wherever anyone lets me.
Many of my drawings are done in part with a sewing machine. A lot of my recent work has
been illustration. I feel like my work is less loyal to a type of art making and more loyal to a
message... so I am often all over the place in my method. I cherish [the] specific, eerie, and
clever. I value the spirit of the South, my childhood backyard of solid dirt, and my magic
On my artistic pursuit I have encountered a number of heroes and villains. I document my
pursuit in my blog, Riding Bareback Beside A Train at abernathyart.blogspot.com. There, I
have learned to care madly about writing. And I have dreams of finishing a book- a big one-
full of art. I keep a gallery at web.me.com/abernathybland. But one day soon I will have a
new site at abernathyparade.com... currently under construction!
Art is dangerous. It’s scary. And I love it."
|"Cause you and your heart shouldn't feel so apart." Invisible Crown|
2. Your images are largely character based and carry inspirational
messages. I know many of them relate to your feelings regarding
the courage it takes to give up your 9-5 and pursue art and the
struggle that ensues. Would you be comfortable sharing an
example of this connecting to a specific piece?
" Yes, I'm comfortable with almost anything. Oh, I love this question. I would like to/ can
gush for hours about the literal inspiration for these pieces. I think when I edit my words
and characters they start to apply to many situations. They are partially loved by someone
because of how they speak to their story- not mine.
The piece- 'Sometimes My Crown is Invisible'- this one is specifically about walking all over
big cities hauling art. It is about getting on a bus, arriving in NY, walking with a giant
puppet to a rehearsal space, walking out, and thinking: 'Wow- I worked all night on that and
just inconspicuously traveled a great distance with a giant black trash bag to deliver it to the
actors that were going to use it.' And no one around me at any given point has any idea what
I am doing or why. To me though, I am moved to do it and it feels very important. It is about
feeling very small and very big at the same time.
|My Back is Broken...because it's bring your puppet to work day.|
As a side note my characters are in backpacks a lot. I often feel like I wear a backpack
permanently. Because as an artist we just carry everything. Literally, at a front counter of a
store, I try to pay for a bar of soap and 27 markers spill from my purse onto the checkout
|The Only Thing & Overboard|
3. Part of the message on your blog is allowing art to infiltrate
every aspect of one's life to truly live creatively. Do you have any
tips, big or small, for my readers to jump start inspiration?
"Yes. You know how in a film you watch what happens because someone has captured it
intentionally for you to look at? You have that same control in your life. I think people forget
that- to be intentionally aware. I think once you master that... you see everything. You get
sensitive. You get inspired. You get the wind knocked out of you. It is beautiful. Like when I
run, I touch the walls and fences and buildings I run by. When you touch things in your
environment it just seeps in more. It sounds crazy, but I even know the smoothest wall in
town. It is on the lower part of the triangular apartment building where two roads intersect
into one. I believe you should make choices that heighten your senses. I notice everything.
Sometimes it is amazing... because I see a lot of kindness or beauty. Sometimes I just hear
someone crunching so loudly I wish I was more blissfully unaware. :) I think people forget to
be aware. Which is too bad, because they are missing out. and I refuse to miss out."
4. Keeping our work fresh means constantly seeking new sources of
inspiration. Where do you look to find it and/ or what kinds of
sources most inspire you?
"I am inspired by life. But I am also inspired by death. I think the fact that I am totally
aware of our mortality is what makes me hang on to this whole artistic pursuit. I find
inspiration when I chase after the big picture and find glimpses of it.
Artists inspire me: Alexander McQueen, Tim Burton, Marina Abramovic, Picasso, Maurizio
Cattelan. I love to learn. I am inspired by what I read. I am moved by the sermons of Martin
Luther King, Jr., stories about the life of VanGogh, essays by Emerson, plays by my brother,
Eric Bland, and wow, so many more I fail to list here. My nephew, Jack, inspires me to love
bigger. I think documentaries are fascinating. I hang around smart people, and I listen."
Want to see more?
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