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Soulful, sincere, spellbinding: In his work, 2018 Texas State Artist Sedrick Huckaby celebrates everyday people

A decade ago, Downtown Arlington proudly served as “home turf” for 2007 Texas State 3D Artist David Keens, glass-blower extraordinaire and professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. Today, another incredibly accomplished artist and UTA assistant professor, Sedrick Huckaby, has earned the title of 2018 Texas State 2D Artist.

Born in Fort Worth, Sedrick always had a penchant for art. A self-described introvert, he preferred drawing and painting to nearly any other activity. After attending O.D. Wyatt High School, Sedrick earned his bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Boston University and a Master of Fine Arts from Yale University.

Drawing much of his inspiration from family, faith and heritage, Sedrick’s impressive works have been displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He’s received many distinctions, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Provincetown Fellowship and a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant.

Downtown Arlington talked with Sedrick about his life as an artist, a teacher and an advocate for the arts. 

DA:  How did your life as an artist begin, and how has your work evolved over the years?

SH:  As I child, I was introverted and preferred drawing over various social activities for kids. I moved from using just a pencil to using a colored pencil, from colored pencils to pastels, from pastels to painting, from painting to sculpture, from sculpture to installation, and from installation to place-making, projects and public art. Lately, in one of the public art pieces, I’m proposing the idea of animation! I don't know if it will happen but I am excited by the possibility. So, life has been a tremendous learning curve, a process that continually spirals outward.

DA:  What do you enjoy most about working with emerging artists?

SH:  When I make art it's like "adding" my influence to the art world. But when I help students find their own voice, it's like "multiplying" that influence.

DA:  While it may be too early to talk specifics, can you tell us what you hope to accomplish during your 2018 term as Texas State Artist?

SH:  I don't know exactly what I will be showing and doing in the DFW area, but I’m intensely working to have works and projects available for exhibition during that time. You just never can tell if the works you are imaging will come together quickly or only after a long, timely process.

Editor’s note: In the meantime, enjoy some of his recent work.

DA:  What does being named Texas State Artist mean to you?

SH:  Being named the Texas State Artist is the highest designation given to an artist by the State of Texas. There have been some pretty great honorees in the past, and now I am one of them. It is an exceptional honor.

DA:  Given recent rhetoric and actions by state and federal legislators to cut/eliminate funding to arts organizations, what (if any) do you see as your role as a Texas State Artist in advocating for the arts?

SH:  It has been a struggle to get those in the position to fund art education to realize the importance of art. But art can speak for itself when it is done in the right spirit. It elevates our thinking, beautifies our communities, celebrates our accomplishments and sentiments. It expresses who we are. Not only that, it transforms communities, promotes business both locally and internationally, and echoes our spiritual being.

Art is an innate part of humanity, and when it is done well, it proves its worth. As for me, I will continue to advocate for it, both with my words and, more importantly, with my works.

About Texas State Artists

Texas State Artists is the state’s highest recognition for excellence in the arts. These positions -- including state poet laureate, state musician, state two-dimensional artist and state three-dimensional artist -- are one-year appointments. The Texas State Artist program is managed by the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA). Also managed by TCA is the Cultural District program, for which Downtown Arlington received designation in 2016.

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About Downtown Arlington

An official State of Texas Cultural District, Downtown Arlington, Texas blends a unique mix of activities, sights, tastes and sounds that attract visitors and locals alike. Within its less than a two-mile radius, Downtown is home to a top tier public research university, prolific fine and performing artists and arts institutions, live entertainment, exciting NCAA and professional athletics, one-of-a-kind dining and retail, and a supportive business climate. Downtown Arlington brings together a plethora of cultures and inspirations with a character all its own.