Woodward, Okla. —
If you find yourself questioning Aaron Black's eclectic art exhibit, which opens Saturday at the Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum, don't worry. That's how the young artist wants it.
Black's "xARTtravaganza" exhibit will be on display at the museum through Jan. 31.
Black, who is a 17-year-old junior from Perryton, Texas, said that he sees art as a mystery.
So whenever he views art and evaluates it, the teen said, "it's just like someone is behind the mask and you want to find out who it is, what their thoughts were, why did they choose this type of mask instead of another?"
It is this mysterious nature that Black said makes him enjoy art so much.
"That's just something that's always interested me, finding the deeper meaning," he said.
And when he is the one making the artwork, Black said his favorite part of expressing his own creativity is "creating the mystery, making people ask why. That's probably one of my favorite questions, why?"
If you have any lasting questions after viewing his work, you can ask Black in person during an artist's reception that will be held at the museum on Jan. 19 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Black said he has been interested in art for "my entire life."
He was first inspired by his grandmother Patricia Black, who he said is a painter and shared some of her talents and knowledge with her grandchildren.
"She taught me and my cousin who is now at the Dallas Art Institute," he said.
But after getting an early start in art, Black experienced a minor setback in middle school.
"I quit art in 7th grade after I failed my art class. I vowed never to take art again," he said, noting at the time he attended school in La Mesa, Texas.
However, a move to a new school in Perryton, as well as support from friends who recognized his creative abilities prompted Black to re-enroll in art classes during his sophomore year.
Because despite his vow, Black's desire to create never went away and as a freshman he discovered a talent for creating things using duct tape, which he now says is his best medium.
"When I started off, I made a shirt out of duct tape, then I made pants, then shoes and a hat," he said. "From there I figured I could do anything with duct tape. So I use duct tape for everything now. Especially when I have a problem I need to fix. How do I fix it? Duct tape."
While the tape may be one of his most versatile mediums, it is far from Black's only medium.
"I do everything," Black said. "Watercolor, acrylics, ink, calligraphy, drawing, as in classic pencil drawings, pastels, color pencils, crayons, 3D."
His talents also extend beyond visual art. "I also do poetry and creative writing," he said.
With the "20 to 30" pieces that he plans to show in his upcoming exhibit at the museum, you can catch a sample of the different variety of media Black uses in his artwork.
Much of his work is done in mixed media, from the black duct tape and puzzle pieces that were used to create his "Piece of Mind" sculpture to the pencil, ink, watercolor, and acrylic he used in his abstract work "Timeless Afflictions," which he said is one of his favorites in the show.
This will be the first solo show for Black, who has previously had some of his work displayed as part of various student art competitions and exhibits. He said his work has been included as part of a state art competition in Texas, the Oklahoma Panhandle State Art Jubilee, and the Paul Laune Memorial High School Art Contest here in Woodward.
In fact, it was at the 2012 Paul Laune contest that Museum Director Robert Roberson was first struck by Black's work.
"At last year's Paul Laune art show, I noticed his picture of a giant foot and he's under it as if it was going to squash him," Roberson said. "I remarked to him how much I liked the photograph, and he asked if I wanted to see some more of his work."
After looking at Black's portfolio, the museum director said he was even more impressed by the teen's developing talent, so he offered Black an opportunity to hold a show.
"I thought, 'let's give him a chance.' We always like to encourage young artists," Roberson said, noting, "I still think he's in the early stages of his talent. So thought it might be nice if we could encourage him on to bigger or better things."
He said he also was interested in hosting Black because he felt "people might like this; it's different, unusual. And we're always on the look out for something uncommon."
Black said he feels his art will appeal to a wide audience.
"There's many different branches, it's not all the same thing. There's a little bit of everything to satisfy people's different tastes," he said.