Madelyn Sneed-Grays is a representational painter born in Dallas, TX. She received her B.F.A at the University of North Texas and is currently working on multiple series that relate to the diversity of cuisine and the cultural climate in America. Madelyn has shown in galleries around Texas and has won the Best of Show Marilyn Smith Memorial Award at the Visual Arts Society of Texas 8th Annual 125-Mile Visual Arts Exhibition in 2014, was a finalist in the 2016 Hunting Art Prize and was selected as one of the finalists for the 2016 and 2017 New Texas Talent Exhibition at Craighead Green Gallery. She now lives in Denton, TX and is being mentored by Rex Hausmann.
Q&A WITH MADELYN SNEED-GRAYS
What concept or narrative is behind your work?
I’m currently working on a new series called Still a Negro that draws attention to the cultural climate in America. The idea behind the series is that a black person can assimilate to white culture, but it doesn’t negate that fact that they’re still black.
How true are you to your artist statement?
I try and stay as true as possible to my artist statement. My artist statement for my current series shares various ideas about the cultural climate in America and the difficulties that blacks face in this country. But, with the paintings themselves, I want to make sure that the composition is very simple and the message very direct. I want people to bring in their own ideas and thoughts about the work and not flood the viewers with mine.
What was it about the subject that made you want to paint it just so? What are you saying with this piece?
The man depicted in my recent and first painting of the Still a Negro series isn't just a male model I chose for a reference, but he is also my husband. I did this purposefully to confront my fears of the fact that he is a black man simply existing and could be the next target in a hate crime. I want people to understand the weight that comes with knowing that a decent, well put together, genuine, black man can still, unfortunately, be seen as a threat to society.
How much time is dedicated to the execution of the work before you actually start the process?
If I’m starting a new painting series, it may take me months to really think through all of the ideas surrounding the current concept. Even when I’ve confirmed and acknowledged various ideas I want to portray within a series, there is still this sense of evolution that happens while navigating through each new piece within the series. But, before I even begin painting, I document the subject, which may include renting out studio space to capture the subject encompassed in an all-white space. Once I’ve chosen a reference image that has great composition and an out-of-focus quality, I begin the process of painting.
How much time does it take you to create an artwork?
Dependent upon the size, it can take anywhere from a week to two months to complete a piece.
What is the average size of your work?
I typically work with standard sizes from 12” × 16” up to 36” × 48.”
What is the price range of your art?
According to the canvas sizes I typically work with, my prices range from $500 to $5,000.
Are you represented by a gallery?
I am currently self-represented and not represented by a gallery.
What other artists have you shown with?
I was invited by curator Steven DaLuz to be a part of the PoetsArtists group show “The Human Condition” and was honored to be showing with a group of talented artists, which included Pamela Wilson, Jennifer Balkan, Karen Offutt, Regina Jacobson, Teresa Elliott, Conor Walton, Daryl Zang, Teresa Butcher, Victor Wang, Anna Wypych, and Stanka Kordic.
Do you have a motto or process you always stick to? If so what is it?
A professor once told me that “paint is just paint.” Although that seems like an incredibly basic statement, it liberated me from feeling worked up if a painting wasn’t coming together as I had envisioned. Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to be a perfect painter that I lose the fun in it. It’s significant for me to be reminded that I’m literally expressing myself with this “oily goop” and I can always change what I don’t end up liking.