From a very young age, I have been attracted to the arts and wanted to involved in that world. I am fortunate enough to have a family that not only encourages, but nurtures personal development. The only downfall was that I come from a family of blue-collar workers and educators. There weren't many walking and breathing artist in my midst. There was no hands on mentor. There was only a tiny fire within me that burned everyday and lead me in a certain direction. So how does one grow if they are not in a community that cultivates them? Do you have to be extracted from the environment in order to get the developmental nourishment you need?
My oldest child once expressed interest in architecture. So I found 3 professional black female architects to talk to her. My son once expressed interest in archery. So I drove him to the north side of Chicago to the archery club. My other daughter expressed interest in being a doctor. SO .... you get where I'm going? Although my family didn't have direct knowledge in what I had a passion for, they allowed me to seek that knowledge from people and places that had it. It was the beginning of my growth as an artist.
Growth doesn't stop at adolescence - not if you desire to be GREAT. Growth continues throughout your lifetime. One of the greatest attributes of a human is to have continuous growth and still maintain the strong foundation from childhood. I work on that all the time. Regardless of how high I soar, I'm the same kid that played piggy in West Chatham Park - I'm the same kid that cleaned my grandmothers yard on 110th and Wentworth - I'm still the same kid, and yet I've gained this vast amount of knowledge. It comes out in my art.
At the beginning of 2015 I was mainly focused on the art space APLOMB and the art collective 4 of a Kind. Paul Branton, the individual artist, took a back seat. This year is different. I have already committed to two Solo Exhibits; one of which, 16 BARS, opens this week at NYCH Gallery (643 W 18th st, Chicago). I must continue to grow as an artist. Does that mean that I abandon collaborative efforts? Hell no ..... There is a project I need to finish with photographer Reisha Williams. This year I'm doing a project with Louder Than a Bomb. My film partner Skee Skinner and I are working on some things. There may even be another gallery in the near future.
Personal growth is very important. I just don't think it means you totally forget where you came from and abandon some of those ideologies or the people that helped you get to the level where you are. Stay consistent - Stay positive - Stay true to whatever it is that you do - and never stop growing.