We had the good fortune of connecting with rEN Dillard and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi rEN, how do you think about risk?
There is a great quote that I refer to often. I believe it was Helen Keller who said “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.” I think that our desire for security comes with a heavy cost – mediocrity. The great American scholar and philosopher Joseph Campbell propagated the idea of “The Hero’s Journey”. I believe becoming your own hero is a very important aspect of the human condition and that usually involves taking big risks. Not everyone will see or understand your vision and a lot of people who care about you will try to convince you to take a safer, more secure path in life. At the end of the day nobody wants to look like a fool. So it takes courage to dream… even more courage to actually take big risks in life. The cave you fear to enter usually holds the treasure you seek.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
With my work, I typically infuse a little social commentary mixed with afro-futurism. I also make a real effort to involve a little humor when and where I can. That is usually accomplished by using multiple mediums to execute ideas. Oil paint, acrylic, collage cut outs, and precious metal are all employed when I am in the studio. It has definitely not been an easy path. I began my career really late in the game. I worked for corporate America for a long time before I became a full time artist. I have sat at boardroom tables and supervised a very busy logistics distribution office for years before I gained the courage to follow my passion. It was one of those scenarios where your life just kind of has a momentum of its own and somehow you have to not only stop it in its tracks, but some how reverse it and go back to something you did as a kid. Looking back over my life, I have always been a remarkable artist. It is a shame it took me so long to embrace it! Someone once said we have to “jump and build our wings on the way down”. I believe making that initial jump from the known to the unknown is one of the hardest challenges we face as a species. We are not afraid of the unknown. How could we be – it is the unknown? What we are really afraid of is the known coming to an end. That is a scary place. True courage is doing what you feel deep down in spite of that fear. Ultimately, I want the world to know my work is more about the viewer than it is about me. I want to challenge people to do an internal investigation about how they feel after viewing my art.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Atlanta is an interesting place. Coming from a small town it was tough to dream big. I’ve always liked Atlanta. And not just for the strip clubs, but the shopping and the food…. kidding. I grew up in Savannah Georgia so seafood is always my default. Atlanta has some great dining options. Of course there is always the Atlanta staple Waffle House. There is one very close to my home so when I walk in they go ahead and drop my pecan waffle with extra pecans even before I order lol. There is also a great place on Glenwood Avenue call Paint Sip Socialize. It is always filled with good vibes. It is a painting studio where you can bring your own bottle of wine or whatever, paint, and listen to an incredible play list of old and current songs. Whenever I am there I can just feel my blood pressure going down.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My mother and Father, Ralph N. Dillard Sr, and Annie Mae Dillard