In the days of social media overload, it’s rare to find an artist that is not over-demanding attention or screaming for looks. A soft-spoken, and true-to-his-word artist, Troy Scat, surpassed my expectations when collaborating on the Faces Collection.
In certain moments, his sketches of women forms may feel like you’re in art school again sketching the naked muse of the day. Look closer, and you identify the interesting pattern that his art shapes by his unequivocal approval of the Black Woman’s body.
As with everything on this site, we wanted to find the deeper meaning and find out what inspires Troy to use his drive to exploit power within the physical aspects of a woman. Here’s an edited version of our conversation.
Q: I want to start off by asking you a little about your background, such as where you are now and some of your art influences?
I’m born and raised on Southside Chicago. I’ve been drawing and creating for as long as I can remember.
Q: Do you produce your own work full time?
I work for an artist, Hebru Brantley, I work on my own things aside from that, and I’m also a tattoo artist. So, I have my hand in a lot of things.
Tell me about that.
When I’m tattooing, its pretty much what the person brings in, but with my art I have full creative control. Tattooing is what I do as a side hustle.
Q: Can you talk to me about the inspiration behind the work you do now?
I grew up seeing black art. The black art that I saw was Ernie Barnes, Frank Morisson, uh, those two names alone are what influenced me to create the art that I do now. Going to museums and art exhibitions growing up— I didn’t really see their type of work showcased in high esteem galleries. They pretty much inspired me to create things like that, but to take it to another level and get it to another place. If that makes any sense?
Q: For those that aren’t familiar with those two artists, how would you describe?
A: Frank Morisson in particular always created what I thought to be the “ideal image” but I grew up seeing the opposite in museums— euro-centric images. It still looked museum quality— but different. I think that’s what pushed me to create things like that.
Q: I’m originally from the South side of Chicago, so I understand those differences. You get two worlds there. There’s high stability and also strife. It seems you had a good grasp of the art world. Where did that inspiration come from?
My parents were a big inspiration behind that. My dad used to draw a lot. I found a folder of his when I was younger and it just had a bunch of his drawings from when he was a kid. I don’t know, I just always tried to be as good as my dad. He put me into the art programs that I was in in high school. That’s pretty much who introduced me to the museums and art world.
Q: You talked earlier about how you didn’t really see a representation of people that looked like you. That was the inspiration behind Adore Adorn. Asa young black woman, I studied at Parsons as one of the few black women in the program. A lot of times art is seen as an elitist aspect of society and we don’t always have a representation within our community and I wanted us (black women) to be a part of the community. The fine jewelry and fashion jewelry presented on this site is all inclusive… hopefully providing inclusion for people that look like me.
This brings me to our collaboration. I was immediately inspired by your black women muses. Your women struck me as something that we all can see ourselves in. I wanted to know where you get your ideas from?
The women that I paint are everyday women. They are my friends that I choose specifically because they are not models. It shows through the photo / art that they let their guard down and are fearless as regular women. It shows that we have that power. It shows that the Eurocentric woman isn’t the only standard of beauty. Most of us growing up are told that we are not beautiful and that dark isn’t a beautiful color. I even paint some of my women purple— just to start the conversation of color itself.
Q: You mentioned that you want to show the power of the black woman. Where do you see that power? Is there a feature that you try to bring out the most?
I think that’s up to the viewer. I think its power in the concept of me painting black women in the nude. It’s a conversation of acceptance— like accepting your body and the color of your skin. That’s where the power comes from.
Q: Can you tell me more about the meaning behind the floral components that you paint with?
It’s not super deep. I have one series that I do with the magnolia flower. I read that it’s a flower that grew in Mississippi. That relates to Southern heritage. This flower was used in the pieces where I painted the skin purple because that’s where most of us come from — the South. My grandmother came from the South. I didn’t really have a deep concept for that, I just went with how I felt. It’s hard to explain.
Q: So where are you now with your art? Do you see yourself continuing with the woman’s figure? Or do you see yourself pushing your art in a new direction?
Right now I’m working on a part two to my first solo show, “Gaze.” It was focused on the woman of color specifically. I want to make further progress on that. I think I will also start venturing into the reason “why” I paint black women. I want to include this in my art. Black people in general and how we are portrayed in America. The art is just a component of being a man that supports black. Being a man that’s pro-black in this society that we’re in. That can be misunderstood as reverse racism sometimes, and I want to share the opposite. I want to go with what inspires me personally and I want to put that together in a new show.
Q: I think that’s important to tell the story. I think that’s where we are as a nation right now. I think our collaboration helps to share a story of inclusion as well. Are there any final thoughts that the Adore Adorn community should know about your art?
I have a website troyscat.com and my Instagram: @troyscat Please stay tuned.