Cydnie Deed-King is a visual artist, mother, teacher and gallery curator. She grabbed a coffee with Dayton Artists United to talk about art and being an artist.
DAU—How long have you been an artist?
CDK—My whole life. My entire family are artists. Both my parents and my sister Taylor are artists.
DAU: How is that? I mean, artists work to express an individual point of view. That seems like it would be harder in a family of artists.
CDK—I don’t know, it hasn’t seemed harder. In some ways its easier. We had an exhibition recently, at Tend and Flourish, all of us together. That was really empowering, watching people react, placing our works together. They are really quite different. My sister does portraits. I do nature inspired scenes. Our works are unique but placed together they showed our bond.
DAU—In other artist interviews, the artists have expressed the difficulty in claiming the title artist, some say they feel like an imposter. Did growing up in a family artists make it easier to claim the title artist?
CDK—I have always felt like an artist, but I struggle with the business of art. I have sold work. That’s hard, it’s like giving away a baby, and I know what I am talking about, now that I am a mother. Each work is unique, an original. I won’t have that experience again, even if I paint the same subject. So, it’s hard to let them go, but I hug and kiss them goodbye and put on a happy face. They are going to a good home. Sometimes, people send me a picture of where they have put the work. I can see where it lives. Sometimes they write and tell me how much they love it, how people always admire it. That is nice. My work in someone’s house.
DAU—Have you sold a lot of work?
CDK—I have let go about 100 pieces. My husband reminds me that there are very famous, revered artists that never sold a work, or only one work in their lifetime. Being an artist has all these things attached to it. When you tell people, you are an artist you can see them thinking “You won’t be famous until you die.”
DAU That’s a scary thought.
CDK—For me its not about being famous. Its about living in art, about being inspired.
DAU—What inspires you?
CDK—Nature. Human connections to nature. No matter how much we try to separate ourselves from it, we’re connected. We’re meant to be one. In my imagination people are botanicals, and I show that in my work. Although, just lately I have been working more with digital images, blending nature and technology.
DAU—What artists do you admire?
CDK—Living artists? Local Artists?
DAU—Any—who do you admire and why?
CDK—I really admire Jes McMillan, the mosaic artist. She has helped me so much. She’s mentored me on how to put a show together. She’s given me opportunities and continues to invite me to participate. On January 11, the exhibition Women Strong Soul Session opens at Tend and Flourish., I have a work in that show.
DAU—This article doesn’t go online until after Jan 11th—how long will the works be on view?
CDK—Until the end of February. It’s a great exhibition. There are talented women in Dayton.
DAU—Other artists you admire?
CDK—Julie Mehretu. She’s a New York artist that does these larger than life drawings. She shares her process in the work, it’s amazing. And my sister, Taylor Deed. Her work is so bold. She uses herself as a model, her face appears in the works. I admire her versatility, the emotion she portrays on the faces. She’s powerful.
When it comes to dead artists, Leonardo DaVinci. He never stopped. He didn’t limit himself to one thing but followed his curiosity. I find him so interesting. He was a vegetarian, and ambidextrous. Someone recently interpreted his notebooks, they copied and flipped them—because he wrote backwards—and I love reading them they are so detailed and so random. On one page he wrote “learn to draw the muscles of the shoulder” and “make soup” right next to each other. He never stopped learning.
DAU—Let’s talk about Dayton.
CDK-I have only lived here about 5 years. I came from St. Louis. It’s interesting to move from a large city to a smaller one. Everything is so close. And I love the park system. The Metroparks are great. I haven’t visited them all, but I want to. Other things about Dayton….I love Young’s Dairy. And I love the art scene. There is a lot happening here.
DAU—Talk to me about the art scene.
CDK—The Contemporary showed me the art scene in Dayton. I started there as a volunteer, and now I am a curatorial assistant.
DAU—What does that involve?
CDK—A little bit of everything. I help marketing events, hanging works, I write up materials: I help everybody. I’ve learned so much working there. Eva has a great curatorial eye, so working with her I’ve learned how to look at art not just for its own sake, but also for how it fits a show idea or its marketability. There’s a lot to think about in that respect. If you want to sell your art, you have to have saleable art. How big is it? Huge works are hard to sell to an individual.
DAU—Let’s change direction a bit—if you could add anything to the Dayton art community—if price were no object—what would you add?
CDK—An amusement park for artists! A big workspace with all kinds of cool equipment. Something large. That would be fun!
What we need, though, really need is something to teach young artists about the business of art. There is more to being an artist than creating pictures. You have to be an entrepreneur. We need to be taught to mount our work. We need to learn how to respond to a call for artists—does my work fit the show?
The Contemporary did something like that—it was called the ArtSource Fellows program. It engaged about 25 artists in a business of art program. I enjoyed it and learned a ton. Eva talks about bringing it back, she wants to foster artists. Unlimited funds would help that!
And since we’re dreaming, we need a massive art store with good pricing. There is an art supplycoming, I read about it. Hue House. Its going to be near the Catfe. We need that.
DAU—What would you like people to know about art?
CDK—I live by this mantra: “Support living artists, the dead don’t need it.” We’re out here trying to make a living.
DAU—Time for another subject shift. If your life was made into a movie, who would you want to play you?
CDK—Lupita Nyong’o or Michonne from The Walking Dead, you know, Danai Gurira. Yeah, either one of those would be good.
DAU—Tell me one scene from your life that would have to be included in the movie.
CDK—Meeting my husband, Alex. We met on the 1st day of college at freshman move in. The RA made us play a getting-to-know-you game of musical roommates. He called out things like “back to back” or “head to head” and you had to stand with a different partner each time with those parts of you touching. Alex and I were paired for ‘head to butt.” We’ve been together for eleven years, married for five.
DAU—And what would our movie be called?
CDK—Oh, that’s hard. If my life were a movie, it’d be called “Art of Madness” because I feel that a lot of artists go crazy on some level, such as internalizing everything around them, questioning their abilities, their decision to become an artist—and some even go so far as to take their own lives unfortunately. However, even out of all that inner turmoil or “madness” if you will, something beautiful comes from it, and it’s something that will make someone else stop in their tracks to take a second look. All artists (the ones that I know anyway) have a method to their own kind of craziness and use it to fuel their art. I definitely went through several moments where I questioned everything about myself as artist and whether or not I did the right things at the right time. I felt like I was going crazy, but I worked through my mental roadblocks and created art that was better than ever!
DAU—I believe it. I’ve seen your work. Cydnie Deed-King, Thank you so much!
DAU-Cydnie Deed- King is showing at Tend and Flourish until the end of February and also atArt at the Trace https://www.centervilleohio.gov/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/2304/
starting February 1.
She will be artists of the month for the City of Centerville in August.
Her website is www.artisticspyder.wix.com/cydnie-deed
To read about other Dayton United artists, click here.