We had the good fortune of connecting with Erika Whitney G. and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Erika, why did you pursue a creative career?
As back as I can remember I always loved creating things, and being in a creative environment. I told my partner to never let me stop making things because its the key to me being a pleasant person to be around. (HAHA) Ultimately, when I was having to decide why I wanted to go to college and what for, there was just nothing else i wanted to put any effort towards. I am from a small town in East Texas, called Sulphur Springs and there was never any one pushing me to get in to a creative field, nor did I really understand that it was possible but as soon as I realized that art school was a thing I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. While in undergrad I still couldn’t fathom what being an artist meant and felt my options were limited. It wasn’t until midway through graduate school that I really understood my possibilities and I haven’t looked back. I am a working artist and educator. I can’t imagine pursuing anything else. I have other interests of course but they definitely influence my work.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Currently in my studio I am working on these plaster paintings. Not exactly a fresco… I build these forms around a wood panel and then pour the plaster over them so the structure is strong from the panel and then once its cured I paint with acrylic over them. They’re wonky and i love the texture of them. they range from 12” – 20” so they’re fairly small. I am on my way to 20 of them and its really the first time in my career where I have given myself a goal of how many of something I would make and it has been really fun. I feel like my practice has grown because of it. I don’t always want to get into my studio but it’s been something that is keeping me in there consistently and now that I am almost at 20 I am looking forward to making a new goal for myself. I work rather quickly sometimes and I used to get really down on myself about not taking ”enough time” to make something but I have come to realize it’s part of my process and I have accepted it. I am a non objective artist abstract artists. I make paintings, sculptures, and installation. My work usually has some sort of portal, repetition and color is a really important factor. I don’t think I am one of these artists that has a certain formula that I stick to. I try to stay open and let the work decide what it needs and it changes from day to day or moment to moment. I can’t say that getting to where I am today has been super difficult but it has definitely taken work. I spend time thinking about my work, making it, and trying and trying and failing. I keep going even when it feels pointless. It’s important to me that I am true to myself in my work, and when it’s not honest I am not satisfied.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would start the day with brunch at La Guadalupana Cafe where you can get authentic mexican breakfast or lunch, then I’d take them to the Menil and I would get real weird and make them smell the Cy Twombly gallery because theres nothing like that smell and its my absolute favorite place to go when I need to clear my head. (I am missing to pretty bad since it hasn’t been open since March) I would definitely take them to walk around Montrose and check out some thrift shops. I would take them to the sculpture garden by the MFAH and tour the Glassel. Then I’d end the day with a nightcap at Grand Prize Bar (also, not open at the moment)

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people who I owe a shoutout to! When I began this trajectory of becoming an artist and I had no clue what I was doing I entered Tyler Junior College where the art department was incredible at guiding students. When I first walked in I felt immediately that I was in the right place. Derrick White who at the time I worked under as a student assistant for the Art Dept. he was also my art appreciation and painting professor, and is currently the Dept. Chair, he really took me in and made me feel like I was someone and that I was going to be someone. He just allowed me to paint and encouraged me every step of the way. I know he did this for every student and still does this for every student but I felt special. Also at TJC, Philana Oliphant my drawing II professor who I was initially intimidated by because she was very stern but I shortly found out how warm she was. I strive to be the kind of professor she was to me. Also shout out to Paul Jones and Dave Funk who made my time at TJC so much fun. Community college is so important and the faculty at the TJC art dept. really gets it. I strive for that for my students as well. Once I transferred to UT Tyler I studied under James R. Pace and I really started finding my voice. With out these professors guiding me and honestly making me feel so supported is why I went to grad school and continued to pursue becoming an artist and why I love being an educator. James “Jim” helped me think about why I was making what I made, he made me think and it was challenging as it should be. I still have so much love for all of them. Now a days, Aaron Parazette who is a UH painting professor still shows support 3 years after graduation. I truly feel I can call on him and he will help out as much as he can. I have a strong community of artists I am involved with here in Houston and I am truly thankful for everyone. I have a small critique group I am apart of we call ourselves Bad grrls club (haha) we chat often especially during all this craziness. We check in on each other and give each other show support. I really feel so lucky to be where I am. (sorry thats more than one person,group…)

Website: www.erikawhitney.com
Instagram: erikawhitneyg

Image Credits
First Photo David A. Brown Art and headshot: Lauren Lohman

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