Featured Artist: Amy Hutcheson

AH Portrait

Amy Hutcheson is an artist based in Memphis, TN.

Her work has been exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States including, Globe Fine Art, Santa Fe; Mongerson Gallery, Chicago; The Ground Floor Gallery, Nashville; and Jack Robinson Gallery, Memphis. Her work is included in several private and corporate collections in Memphis and Chicago.

In 2012 Hutcheson received Best in Show, From The Ground Up, from The Ground Floor Gallery in Nashville and was a nominee for the Emmett O’ Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration, nominated by The Brooks Museum in Memphis. Hutcheson received her BFA from Memphis College of Art and she currently lives and works in Memphis, TN.

How did you find yourself in the arts – or how did the arts find you?
I have been making art for as long as I can remember. My mother told me once that she would always find me in my room drawing creatures and creating new worlds on paper. It was my escape. I don’t remember ever announcing “I am going to be an artist;” I just have always been one. It has always been very instinctual to me to create.

When I was younger I drew monsters, I think that was the first iteration of abstraction for me. Monsters can look like anything and have any shape and be any color. I fumbled around a bit with it in my 20s and then jumped in at age 30 and attended Memphis College of Art and never looked back.

Who has been an influence in your career?
Definitely my mentor and teacher at Memphis College of Art, Fred Burton. I developed a lot of my studio work ethic just by working with him. He taught me to just keep making art and that every piece informs the next one. Some of my favorite advice from him was, “Don’t fall in love with the painting, fall in love with the process.” It keeps you clearheaded.

I am also drawn to the women artists who are featured in Mary Gabriel’s ubiquitous book, Ninth Street Women, such as Joan Mitchell, Elaine De Kooning and Lee Krasner, to name few. It’s not just about their work but their drive and determination to paint and be taken seriously in a male-dominated era.

When you hit a creative block, how do you move forward?
I rest, I get as far from my studio as I can in terms of what I read and experience.

I guess I am a marathon painter. I will plan my paintings going into the studio and keep working until I feel I have brought a series to its respective conclusion. It could be months, depending on the scale and scope of the project. Then I take time off to recharge my batteries. I try not to look at the work during that resting period. Then I go back in and decide if I have more to say in that series or if it has moved me in another direction. During that downtime I may work on intense drawings to stay focused.

The process is more like a form of meditation for me as opposed to “work.” It is therapeutic in the sense that I tend to work things out i.e. creative blocks or emotional resistance on paper. For me, the only way out is through.

What legacy do you hope your work creates?
It’s a crazy to think that your work will be here long after you’re gone. My work is like my journal. It defines moments in my life through the colors, shapes and titles. Interpretations aside, I hope my work brings people as much joy as it brings me when I get to create it. I want the viewer to feel something when they look at my work and I hope it invites them to go deeper within their own thoughts and feelings so that they can discover their own joy.

What has been an important lesson you have learned during your career?
Not to take criticism and rejection to heart. Everyone see things through their own perspective and not everyone is going to love you or your work. The best you can do is make work that satisfies and excites you. If you are true to yourself, I believe it will show up in the work.

What advice might you give to your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to be different and to step out and take chances with your work and life. Read a ton of books and see as much art as you can. Take it all in and give it all back in the best way you know how.

How do you define success?
There are degrees to success of course. Right now I am very happy getting to spend a lot more time in my studio. My “day job” allows that. But ultimately I want painting to be my full time job. I am working towards finding more galleries tor represent me and my work and also developing an artist talk series that I hope will inspire others. I am at the place in life where a lot of people talk about what they will do when they retire. I always tell them I will just do more of what I am doing now. That’s the best success an artist can have, the ability to create their entire life.

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