Randy “Freedomclay” Rogers is a buoyantly positive force to be reckoned with. You can’t hold even a minute-long conversation with him and leave without a smile.
Our creative friendship began over a year ago when he approached me to curate an exhibition for LinCS 2 Durham. Together, we conceived “Feedback Loops,” an exhibition which invited artists to respond to LinCS 2 Durham’s research about HIV / AIDS prevention in the Durham community.
With all his intensive (and incredibly important) work training people in the health department and local government to be empathetic with each other, Randy navigates the strain of addressing sensitive issues with people as well as maintaining his beaming energy under substantial bureaucratic weight. His painting has become his creative release from these pressures.
Inspired by the beauty in life – especially flowers (sunflowers are his favorite) – Randy experiments with colors and playful applications of acrylic on canvas. The most important thing for him is creating without direction.
I can be so formal in my learning process for other things, and I did not want to be formally trained in terms of painting. I don’t want to be bridled.
As much as I celebrate direction in other learning modalities, in this artistic expression, I just wanted it to be what it is.
I don’t paint to be labeled an artist or for exposure. I paint for the sheer joy of it.
Painting not only brings a balance to formality and freedom in his life. It is also a continued lesson in patience. As acrylics dry, the colors change slightly, often requiring layers and layers of alterations to create the effect that he desires.
He also uses visuals from critical and artistic articles as inspiration. Recently, he created a painting based on cover of JET Magazine for an article about missing black children going under the radar and not receiving the same media coverage.
No matter the subject, Randy brings a playful spirit to his brush strokes and color choices. Like his personality, his paintings are effusively joyful — and enable him to remain so.
Talking to Randy was a beautiful reminder me that painting and art-making are just as important for mental well-being as it is for inspiring others in a quest for social change.
By taking joy in the act of art-making, we rejuvenate our energy, which can then be used in the other ways that we support and challenge our communities.
What are you going to make this week just for the sheer joy of it?