We had a chance to visit with artist, Brady Haston at his home studio in East Nashville this October, and see the new paintings and drawings he's working on.
Where is your studio, and what do you like about it?
My studio is behind our house on the western edge of East Nashville just off Dickerson Pike. The studio feels like a creative space whenever I enter. The paintings and drawings are scattered around and it becomes easy to pick up where I left off during the last work session. Having a studio so close to the house compliments my teaching career and makes for easy access during the work week when time is limited.
How do you find the time to work on your art while also being a teacher at Watkins?
Teaching allows me to have large blocks of time during the summer and other times of the year to spend focusing on my painting. During the work week, the studio's close proximity allows for time to make drawings and keep up with my ideas in the sketchbook and on paper.
Is there anything about being a teacher that influences your work?
Teaching is rewarding because I am exposed to young artists and the energy they bring to their work.
How did you start making work about Nashville?
Local narrative/images/flavor have influenced my work for many years and when I moved to Nashville, it seemed only natural to let the place and history settle into my paintings and drawings.
How does your newest work differ from your last show at Zeitgeist?
In many ways, the recent work is a continuation of the content being explored in my last show,"A Brief History of Nashville". However, the recent work is beginning to go beyond the Nashville area and the painting,"Plateau" is inspired by a panorama of the Cumberland Plateau east of Nashville. "Traveler" also references the idea of a person walking through time and was inspired by stories of early immigrants walking from North Carolina westward. Both groups of work jump back and forth on the time line and play with the idea of sampling history. "Dickerson" from 2013 and "Station" from 2015 are references to architectural structures I pass in my East Nashville neighborhood. I would feel comfortable combing any of the paintings from the last show in with this recent body of work.
Where did the symbolism of the black box come from?
On one of our hikes by the Tennessee River I saw an abandoned duck blind and did drawings based on its simple box like construction. A few days later, I read an article by Marc Scala in the "Nashville Arts" magazine describing the Kaaba in Mecca and decided to combine both of these primitive cube like structures. This seemed like an interesting way to incorporate the local into a painting.
Where did the symbolism of the tree come from?
The tree form entered my work several times over the past few years and for me it symbolizes nature fighting to coexist in an environment overwhelmed by the Anthropocene. Now, I am researching the legend of an early Tennessee explorer, Bigfoot Spencer, who lived in a large hollow tree and am curious to see where this will lead.
What books and experiences have inspired you recently?
My wife and I recently completed a 27 mile canoe and camp trip to the Big South Fork and just got back from a long weekend in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. The float trip helped to think about the temporal aspect of travel and history while the Chicago trip provided a chance to experience the dynamics of contemporary art making.
Paul Clement's book "The Chronicles of the Cumberland" still has a few stories that I am considering basing paintings on.
How long before you feel like a piece is done? Do you have to force yourself to quit?
Typically, my paintings evolve over several months and at times, I can spend a couple years fighting to discover the image and then turning that into a finished piece.Usually, a painting begins to feel finished when I come up with a title and start to rationalize that with the evolving image.
What was the most important thing you learned in art school?
The importance of a strong work ethic and studio practice is essential .
What resource does Nashville need for artists?
Nashville seems to have a good number of places for artist to show now and I wish there was regular biennial or other type of strong curated show that could be inclusive and show the best of what is happening now. This might help develop a stronger critical dialogue between the artist and public which currently seems to be lacking.