“Artists always discover something first and then science catches up,” contemporary artist, Poteet Victory, explained during a series of workshops with Fine Art students from The Episcopal School of Dallas. Victory, who spoke about the creative genius behind his “Abbreviated Portrait Series,” shared with the community about how he not only turned people into shapes, but how today’s instant forms of communication influenced his work.
“If you can abbreviate words, why can’t you abbreviate a person?” Victory asked the students. Similar to how people use shorthand words in text messages, Victory only uses snippets of a person’s appearance to represent them in a painting.
Victory uses a kind of technological inspiration to draw simple shapes that represent famous celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, John Wayne, Lucile Ball, Paul Newman, and Elton John, among others.
“Subconsciously, you associate people you meet with shapes, forms, and colors. You don’t know you’re doing it, but it’s like a computer screensaver with all the moving pieces, and then when you hit the mouse, a complete picture appears.”
During a workshop with Vikki Martin’s seventh grade art class, Victory worked one-on-one with students as they tried to sketch their favorite celebrity. He instructed them to not only draw what they remember the celebrity looks like, but to also delve into their subconscious to extract smaller details that might not be evident at a first glance.
“Visual Arts at ESD continues to be committed to the idea of introducing students to modern-day artists so they can learn and interact with them to improve their own work,” Martin explained. “In working with Poteet, the seventh grade class had the unique opportunity to study how a creative person solves a problem.”
Jake Carrell, who was drawing Robin Williams, said the most valuable lesson he learned from the workshop was to never see a mistake as something negative.
“There’s no wrong way to draw something,” Carrell explained. “Mr. Victory taught me that it’s not bad to make a mistake and that some mistakes can actually make your art better.”
For Sophia Ehring, the most valuable lesson she learned was looking beyond one’s initial observations.
“When you think of someone, you don’t realize everything you’re seeing, but when you sit down to draw that person, more details start to emerge as you creatively express what you see,” Ehring said.
Victory’s work will be on display in the Jennifer and John Eagle Gallery of the Susan M. Frank Center for Arts & Humanities through December 7. Many thanks to Chris McLarry '80 of McLarry Modern for making this exhibition possible.