Liam Besneatte-Cullinane

How did you get started in art?
I only became interested in art in my late teens. I was always a really curious kid, and I liked to look at scientific illustrations and photographs, which helped develop an interest in visual things. I think it was after I got my first “good” camera that I began to consider the possibility that I might have been an artist, or at least that I found inspiration in creating images simply for the sake of their own beauty.

What interests you most about art?
Now that I consider myself a full-fledged artist, there’s not much about art that doesn’t interest me. I care about the history of art throughout all times and places, the future of art in the changing world, and the lives and experiences of artists, those contemporary to me and the ones that came before.

In my personal practice, what interests me now is creating work that speaks to any universal human reality. Currently, my work focuses on the surreal nature of human cognition, through biology, psychology and philosophy. I am keenly aware of the distinct landscape of each person’s mind, and I make work that presents itself in these landscapes and compels my viewer to reconsider their own perceptions and to highlight the inherent violence of our very thoughts.

How are you involved with art?
I am currently a senior studio art major at Emory & Henry, so I’ve been in advanced studio classes consistently for years. I am also the assistant curator at the McGlothlin Center for the Arts, where I have been working for almost four years. Here, I am able to practice museum/gallery work through exhibit installation and production, as well as meet artists of all backgrounds and genres.

I also have a small studio at my home where I create work on my own time.

Who are your influences?
In terms of visual artists, my main influences now are Jean-Michel Basquiat, Barbara Kruger, Damien Hirst and Robert Rauschenberg. I find the concept behind their individual work incredibly compelling, and the approach they each take to visual communication inspiring.

I am perhaps even more influenced by writers and artists from other mediums, however. I spend a lot of time listening to music, and the sounds of MC Ride, Playboi carti and Mdou Moctar have been especially prevalent in my studio in recent months. I also develop many ideas and motifs from existential philosophers such as Camus, Kafka and Nietzsche, as well as classical works such as ‘Paradise Lost’ and even, in rare cases, the Bible.

What does art mean to you?
Art, to me, means that I can exist in a greater form than I was born into. I use my work as a medium by which I can convey something that truly matters, truly exists or truly describes. Art means that I can grasp a piece of time and a piece of thought in one hand and amplify it through the mind-virus of anyone who perceives it. Art means I have the right to live forever.

What genres do you prefer?
Currently, my main body of work has been mixed-media, mostly acrylic and inks with collage elements on plywood or paper. By volume however, analog photography is the medium I have the most work in. I try not to exist in one genre or medium too long, to avoid complacency or comfort.

Describe your style.
I generally work fast and intuitively when applying elements to my surface, but the ideas, motifs and concepts may exist in my mind for months before I find the right moment to express them. I enjoy using harsher edges and colors, sticking mostly with blacks, whites and reds. I often use whatever is around me for a mixed-media work, be it duct tape, cigarette ash or expensive oil paints.

What are your future plans?
My plan is to fully support myself through my art-making practice, however it takes to get there. Other plans include graduate school and gallery work.

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Mountain City, Tn
  • Liam Besneatte-Cullinane


Mountain City, Tn