The Transformative Power of Art, with Dean Mitchell

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By Antrese Wood, Conversations about the business of art, and Inside the artist studio. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Can you think back to a point in your career where you started to appreciate the transformative power of art? Maybe for you, it was the first time you went to an art museum or that one art class that opened your eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. From early childhood experiences to forging his own path in the art world - my guest, Dean Mitchell, came prepared to explore the whole spectrum in our wide-ranging conversation. I know that artists like you will really appreciate Dean’s valuable and seasoned perspective!

Early influences matter

As you look back on your start as an artist, was there an individual who encouraged you along the way? How did your early influences shape your journey as an artist? For Dean Mitchell, two key influences changed the course of his career and his life. The crucial first influence for Dean was his grandmother - not only did she raise Dean, but she also encouraged and empowered him on his journey to becoming an artist. The other key influence for Dean was his junior high school art teacher who wouldn’t let him drop out of art competitions. While we often shrug off these early influences in our lives, the truth is, they matter more than we care to give them credit for!

How art can make you feel

One of the most amazing aspects of art is the ability to evoke an emotional reaction out of the viewer. From sculptures that draw you closer to watercolors that transport you to another place entirely - art has the power to take you on a deep and personal journey. In our conversation, Dean was kind enough to open up about what he hopes to accomplish with his art. Beyond painting what most people want to see, Dean has been able to position his career in a way where he can challenge people with his art in ways they never thought possible. When was the last time artwork on an emotional level moved you?

Taking risks

Dean Mitchell will be the first person to tell you that the road hasn’t been an easy one throughout his career. From growing up poor and isolated from many of the opportunities, his peers outside of the south had to institutional roadblocks that are all too real for many black artists - Dean knew he was in for a challenge. To overcome these challenges, Dean needed to take some risks that most people would shy away from. Facing rejection and defeat at an early age would crush most budding artists, but Dean was determined that all these risks would eventually pay off - and he was right!

Looking beyond social constructs

What hope do you have for our society? Do you think things are getting better or are they getting worse? Let’s face it - headlines and news stories often push and pull us toward confirming our biases and keeping our culture compartmentalized. Imagine what it would look like if we started peeling away and tearing down harmful social constructs like the idea that one group of people is inherently superior to others. Dean Mitchell is convinced that art exists to play a definitive role in growing our imaginations and our expectations of how the world should work. What can you learn from Dean’s fascinating perspective? I hope you enjoyed getting a peek inside the mind of this talented and renowned artist!

Outline of This Episode
  • [2:15] I introduce my guest, Dean Mitchell.
  • [4:20] Dean talks about what led him to his career as an artist.
  • [10:50] Family dynamics and growing up poor in Flordia.
  • [17:00] The value of early childhood art education.
  • [26:50] Beauty in the midst of pain.
  • [31:30] How art can bring hope.
  • [38:00] Going to college and taking risks.
  • [45:30] Dean explains how he became financially stable.
  • [57:00] An insight into the mindset of many art collectors.
  • [59:20] Dean opens up about his experience entering art competitions.
  • [1:06:30] How art can grab you on a visceral level.
  • [1:20:00] Why we need to see beyond our social constructs.
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