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Volume 26, Number 10 — October 2018

Arts for Youth Spotlight — Devin Mitchell

Devin Mitchell with his artwork.
Devin Mitchell with his artwork.

Devin Mitchell has a passion for creation

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | September 26, 2018

Devin Mitchell says he has a drive to create, which led him to art.

“In high school, I began to explore different art forms. However, it wasn’t until attending Emory & Henry College that I began to reflect on my own work. In my studio classes, I had artistic freedom to create. For the first time, I was not hindered by any boundaries. I was allowed the freedom to explore my own process. While at Emory & Henry, I came to the realization that my work is constantly evolving and leading me into new practices,” he says.

Since he’s come to E&H, his medium has changed. “In previous bodies of work, I have preferred to use mediums such as ink and watercolor. When I first began experimenting with these mediums, I was fascinated with the graphic quality one could achieve. With my ink over watercolor process, I could mimic the quality of a print. However, I feel that my work has evolved and continues to do so. I am now more interested in the idea of using unconventional mediums in my work. I feel there is a very seductive quality to combining mediums that typically are not meant to work together.

“What I find most interesting about art is the idea revolving around self expression. Every artist who produces work is able to draw from life experiences. These experiences can range from the societal and cultural influences that formed them to the personal struggles they have faced. In that sense, every artist and their work are completely unique on an individual level.

“I am fascinated with the concept of obtaining a rawness to my art. Whenever, I fabricate a work, I actively do not to allow myself to hinder the process. Through my hand, I allow the work to form on its own terms. I do not plan my work before production instead I just create. I feel this absence of planning allows my work to obtain a more lively and pure energy,” Devin says.

Artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Jean DuBuffet and David Lynch influence Devin’s work. He feels they have the “rawness” that he seeks for his work.

“I look at the works these artists have produced and feel an overall sense of purity.Recently, I have found that personal struggles have played a key role in the message my work conveys. In a sense, my work allows me to examine and further understand the struggles and hardships I have faced,” Devin says.

Devin recently had a show at Wolf Hills Brewing Company, Abingdon, Virginia, and is preparing a show for William King Museum of Art, Abingdon, Virginia. The exhibit, “The Town That Raised Me,” opens in January. It contains drawings and excerpts from his sketchbooks. The works were inspired by people and interactions he had while living in a small Virginia town.

“In my sketchbook series, I tried to capture the essence of what I found intriguing about the people that once surrounded me. Many describe this body of work to have a sense of whimsical energy.

“I feel that I do not fully grasp what art means to me. Yes, I see art as a form of self-expression. However, I believe that art is more intrinsic than what meets the eye. To not truly know what art means to you is acceptable. I feel I will question what art means to me for the rest of my life. Maybe, one day I will understand all the facets of art,” Devin says.

After graduation Devin plans on pursuing a MFA in painting. While at Emory & Henry, he also became interested in museum studies and looks forward to seeing where this interest takes him. He says he cannot picture a life in which he will stop creating.

Devin is the son of Keith and Lisa Mitchell of Sugar Grove, Virginia. He is a 21-year-old senior at Emory & Henry College, majoring in studio art and history.

Topics: Art