I am a self-taught, Philadelphia-based artist. Influenced early on by both my grandfather and uncle, each of whom pursued creative careers, I took to drawing as a child and spent much of my youth filling the pages of empty notebooks with images of individuals, both fictional and real. In college, I had hoped to study art. But I’d been awarded a football scholarship from Syracuse University and therefore had to prioritize my activities, which meant dropping my studio courses since they conflicted with the school’s training schedule. While I ended up majoring in Information Technology and then later earned my MBA at the University of Delaware, I never lost my passion for art. Rather, it remains a vehicle that I continue to utilize as a means to give voice to my innermost concerns.
Inspired by the Old Masters as well as contemporary realists, I always have been captivated by portraiture and its capacity to impart the complexities that comprise the human condition. It wasn’t until I stopped working with acrylic and started experimenting with oil two years ago that I started spending so much more time at the easel. Not only have I found the material’s pliability so much easier to navigate, but it’s ease of use has pushed me to delve that much deeper into my subject matter and risk voicing my trepidation about the many issues that I hold close to my heart, such as social justice, climate change, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. At their core, I want my paintings to invoke mindfulness, to inspire contemplation, and to convey understanding.
- O'Neil Scott August 2017
American Emotion is an exhibition that takes a look at individuals and their different emotional states in relationship to America. These emotions span from a sense of pride to a sense of sorrow and anger. American Emotion touches on topics such as the border situation, immigration and the country’s current sense of divide around justice and reverence for others. Asking the questions of, how do these topics make us feel as Americans, as well as how is the view of America being impacted across the world, each painting holds symbolism beyond the first glance.
I feel there is a constant emotional push and pull within American society. I have experienced a large amount of injustice just being a black male in America. As a marginalized American, I think I have a higher sense of empathy for others. I easily relate to situations around equal rights, whether it’s Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights or any other civil rights movement. Injustice for some Americans is an injustice for all Americans. We can only move forward together, recognizing that we all come from one race, the human race. Currently, I am thinking about how America as a country is feeling about its current state and reflecting that through each painting. Even with each painting portraying a different topic they all have an underlying theme of society’s current state.
Each painting encourages the viewer to step out of their current world and connect with other races, nationalities, and religions. In the end it should bring forth some awareness and understanding towards our fellow Americans. Hopefully this exhibition shows the ties that bind instead of the knives that divide.