Q&A with Student Artist: Reggie Pickering

Reggie Pickering is a senior from Raymond, Mississippi with a BFA in painting. The paintings below are from Reggie’s senior thesis, which is his favorite project that he has completed so far. It is marking a new chapter as him for an artist and that is something that he is excited about.

Q: When did you start painting?  What inspired you to paint?

A: I wish I had a sappy story to tell but painting chose me.  I always loved the arts growing up, and painting was the only easily accessible and inexpensive medium that my parents were able to afford to buy for me.  After years of working with the medium, I developed an appreciation and love for painting.  That appreciation and love for painting is what pushed me to want to study painting.  The feeling of my younger self knowing that he is in the field that he always dreamt for himself since middle school is what inspired me to paint.

Q: What all types of media do you use?  Do you just paint or is there more?

A: Currently, my primary medium is painting.  I do use photography in the preparation stages for my paintings.  Eventually, I would like to experiment with other media like ceramics, printmaking, and photography.

Q: Has your work ever been on display anywhere?  If so, where?

A: In 2019, the Advanced and Intermediate Painting classes had the opportunity to exhibit their representational paintings at Southside Gallery alongside our instructor Philip Jackson and local artist, Brian Rego. 

Q: Favorite artist(s) you get inspiration from?

A: I haven’t found an artist yet whose works mimics mines entirely on a conceptual level and technique.  Devan Shimoyama and Kehinde Wiley are two people I look to conceptually because our work deals with similar concepts of challenging the image of masculinity.  But, I’ll look to artists Chris Cosnowski and Allan Innman for technique because we all are using toys as the subject in our still life. 

Q: When are your most productive hours?

A: If we are talking about making art, then it is on Fridays.  If you are like me, I can get easily distracted by talking to people.  Since the Department of Art and Art History doesn’t have many classes scheduled for Fridays, the building is almost empty which is the perfect time for making art.  

Q: Favorite project you have completed?  Explain it.

A: My BFA Thesis.  It’s a cliché answer, but it marks a new chapter for me as an artist.  From the past two semesters leading up to my thesis has marked a turning point in my work.  I am honest with myself about the work I want to make, and my thesis is the first of many series of work to show that. 

Q: Have you had any silver linings during this global pandemic? 

A: Still being able to see some of my friends and instructors even if it’s at a distance or over Zoom.  I didn’t know how much I enjoyed talking to people until the pandemic.  I always describe myself as shy, but this pandemic proved otherwise, funnily enough.  The pandemic also gave me time to reflect on everything I have done within these recent years and to build on new skills. 

Q: Favorite quote:

A: “Every child is an artist.  The only problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso

Q: Do you have any advice for someone wanting to become a better painter?

A: Obviously, no one can become a better artist if they are not making work.  If you are not making work, you are not putting in the time to hone your skills and grow as an artist.  Next, don’t compare yourself to others.  Comparing yourself to other students or artists is only going to minimize your personal journey as an artist.  You will be so fixated on why your work is not as good as theirs. Finally, have realistic expectations.  Don’t expect to paint hyper-realism after one painting class.  There are few people who make art purely on preexisting talent.  The majority of artists have years of hard work and failures to get to the skill level they are at now. 

Q: What are three ideas you want to explore in art?

A: Gay semiotics.  The male figure as the goddess Venus. Brown paper bag test.  These are three ideas that I briefly explored in order to get to the paintings I’m currently creating.  They each produced some of my most memorable talk about paintings during my years at Ole Miss, but weren’t a good fit for my thesis.  Even though it wasn’t a good fit for my thesis, I felt like my exploration with those ideas was cut short because my concept was quickly evolving.  With all that I learn from completing my thesis, it’s given me better direction for these ideas.

Q: Plans for after graduation?
A: I’m going to continue to make art to build up my portfolio for when I apply to art residencies and graduate school in the future.  I’ll definitely need to find a small job to help pay for all my supplies and to earn extra money.

Q: Story behind the paintings you do:
A: Growing up, I have always noticed myself acting more effeminate and not always liking the same things as the other boys.  I didn’t always express it because of fear of being bullied.  As I got older, I witnessed how boys were being bullied for acting similarly or read about how they are being disowned or assaulted.  Those people wanted us to feel that we were less of a man if we acted that way.  My paintings are my way of showing everyone, especially, the boys and men like me that it’s okay to like ‘girly’ things or if you identify as LGBTQ+.  Those things are not a measurement of your manhood.