Artistic Odyssey: Skip Hill
In the intricate tapestry of the art world, Skip Hill emerges as a captivating storyteller, guided by a myriad of influences and a steadfast commitment to self-expression. As he reflects on his early years, Hill recounts the formative experience of a summer school art program at the age of 7, where he first encountered the captivating colors of Vincent Van Gogh's 'Bedroom at Arles.' This childhood fascination marked the beginning of a lifelong exploration of color and form, even in the face of challenges growing up as a pastor's child in the Bible Belt of Oklahoma.
Transitioning into the realms of Graphic Design and Advertising, Hill found a unique blend of discipline and professionalism that would later shape his artistic endeavors. Reflecting on his time in Thailand and the Netherlands, Hill acknowledges how these experiences infused his work with the vibrancy of diverse cultural landscapes. "My aesthetic sensibilities were shaped by my years living in the Netherlands, particularly the arts of the 'Dutch Golden Age' and, of course, Vincent Van Gogh," he shares.
Influenced by artistic giants like Romare Bearden, Franz Hals, and Van Gogh, Hill's creative process evolved, leaving an indelible mark on his artistic sensibilities. Travelling to various countries broadened his visual language, fusing influences from African American folk art, African tribal motifs, and contemporary global culture. "By combining them together, I create layers of visual texture that span language, time, and place," Hill remarks.
Describing his creative process as a harmonious blend of acrylic paints, paint pens, and hand-cut paper collage, Hill unveils his artistic gumbo—a recipe that brings each piece to life. His art becomes a poetic expression, a soft melody, or a love note that invites personal interpretation. "The art is less about directly relating a story and more about conveying a mood," he explains.
A palimpsest of cultural references emerges in Hill's work, drawing inspiration from Orisha folktales, Yoruba sculptures, Adinkra symbols, and global folk art. Living in Bangkok brought him into contact with Buddhism, influencing the spiritual themes in his work. The Garden of Eden and baptismal symbolism become recurring motifs, symbolizing rebirth and renewal.
While his art isn't necessarily rooted in personal narratives, Hill believes in the ethereal nature of his work, inviting viewers to connect with their own stories and experiences. "My art isn’t necessarily based on personal stories, but I believe the ethereal nature of the work touches and speaks to people in such a way that evokes their own personal stories and experiences," he reflects.
Despite generally steering clear of overtly political statements, recent societal events prompted Hill to create works like the 'Phrenology Series,' offering a visual commentary on the image and aesthetics of Black Masculinity in America. Departing from his usual lyrical and beautiful pieces, this series speaks to the power of art to engage with contemporary issues. "The narratives and images behind the ‘Phrenology Series’ are my visual social commentary about the image and aesthetics of Black Masculinity in America," he acknowledges.
With a global audience appreciating his work, Hill remains humble yet awestruck by the belief that his art has the capacity to touch people worldwide. His artistic odyssey is an invitation for others to embark on their own creative journeys, a testament to the potent fusion of culture, spirituality, and societal dynamics in the world of Skip Hill.
As he navigates the complexities of art, Hill continues to evolve, each brushstroke adding a layer to his narrative. His art stands as a living testament to the ever-expanding realm of creativity, transcending geographic and cultural boundaries. Hill's journey, with its twists and turns, is an enduring invitation for others to explore the boundless possibilities within their own artistic landscapes.