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Featured Artist: Lin Lucas

Lin Lucas
Teaching Artist Lin Lucas: ideas sleuth and sartorial inspiration.

While Lin Lucas is new to Young Audiences’ roster, he is no stranger to art making and has been a teaching artist since 1996. You might also recognize him from his work as an Arts Integration Coach for The Right Brain Initiative! After year of “admiring Portland from afar,” Lin made the move south from Seattle in October 2014. An explorer of ideas and methods, Lin found early inspiration in a Superman lunchbox. He knew he “wanted to make a difference in the world,” and while 5-year-old Lin didn’t know what artists were, he “intuitively understood that they were people who made the impossible real, people who uttered magic words like: ‘What if…?’ ” In his young wisdom, Lin knew that ” ‘What if…?’, had to be the best super power of all.” Read on for more about our newest roster artist and learn more about Lin’s Comics & Social Justice residencies here.

The lunchbox and comic character that launched Lin's artistic explorations.
The lunchbox and comic character that launched Lin’s artistic explorations.

What is your art practice outside of teaching? I’m a self-described dilettante, exploring a range of mediums from performance to visual art, primarily comics, which is my home base of artistic expression. More recently, I’ve been delving into writing short fiction.

What inspires your art making / fuels your creative practice? Much of my work is driven by a need to see aspects of African/African-American culture represented. Popular culture shapes so much of our consciousness and the absence or limited ways that Black people are included in the creative landscape is disturbing and damaging. As a storyteller, a lot of my work has been focused on re-examining history through an Afrocentric lens and asking “What contributions were Black people making at that time? What personal and political challenges were they confronting?”

Human Rights comic created in one of Lin’s comics residencies.

If you could be any animal, what would you be? If I could be an animal, I’d be a dolphin. It would be amazing to see the world through a dolphin’s eyes and to laugh like they do.

What is one of your earliest art memories? I remember my older brother sitting me down one Saturday morning, handing me a stack of paper and a pencil and saying, “You need to learn how to draw for yourself!” I was always badgering him to sketch my favorite cartoon characters and one day, he decided to liberate himself from that responsibility. I drew Spider-Man.

What’s the best thing about being a teaching artist? Being able to engage a wide range of students in a variety of settings is something I enjoy a lot. It challenges me to be adaptive and responsive to different student needs and learning environments. I also like the latitude that working outside formal systems allows me. The arts can be a window for exploring a wide range of topics in a very subversive way. Inviting students to examine their lives and their world views is something I try to weave into dialogues that emerge during any learning process.

Why is art important to kids? There’s a Nigerian proverb, “We are what we think!” Art making is one of the few activities over which young people can have total control. A child conceives, selects their tools, navigates the landscape of imagination, addressing challenges and making choices all along the way.

Student-drawn illustration of colonization.

What teacher or artist was inspirational to you as a kid? My 6th grade teacher Michael Owens probably set the template for me as a teacher. He was the first teacher who ever shared his first name with a class. He shared his interests with us and laughter was a key ingredient in his practice. Artistically, cartoonist, Jack Kirby who was the architect for much of the Marvel Comics universe, was an equivalent influence. His work became part of my DNA.

Who is your art hero now? William H. Johnson, Betye Saar, Banksy, Kevin O’Neill

What is a favorite memory of creating or performing? Last summer, I scored a butoh dance demonstration as an intro to a workshop that I was doing at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. The workshop was called “Deconstructing Empire Through Butoh Dance” and was designed around an exhibit by four artists. I got to design an interactive, multi-disciplinary experience that combined poetry making and creative movement in response to social conscious visual art. It was a powerful teaching/learning/creating experience.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be? I would be a human being on a journey of discovery, looking for ways to transform myself and the world around me into something new, something greater. Life as art is the ultimate medium. That’s what I’m into.

Check our Lin’s comics, performances, and her more on his personal website:

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