Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Picasso, Rembrandt, Warhol– these are the names that immediately come to mind when thinking of the world’s most influential artists.
Andre Woolery can now be added to the list of artists who have introduced a different way of creating art. Although you won’t find many that look like him in the world of art, Andre is debunking stereotypes and literally pushing his way into the annuls of history with his intricate pushpin pieces, electrifying oil paintings and vibrant acrylic pieces that he and his cohort call Invisible Hieroglyphics. By making the decision to follow his passion, Andre Woolery is helping people of different hues discover the colorful possibilities that exist beyond the walls of a cubicle.
As a kid, Andre did not immediately recognize his gift for the arts. For him, his knack for creating was more of a hobby. “I was into art as a kid,” says Andre. “Reflecting back I probably took it for granted. At the time it was like, ‘oh I can draw better than most people but that's just whatever.’ I never realized I was doing anything special. You don't realize that you’re actually doing something that you can excel at. You’re in school and the things you get rewarded for are usually not artistically related. It’s about getting an A. The art thing is like 'oh that's nice'.”
It’s hard to believe that this gifted artist once majored in computer science at Duke University. Because of the popularity of computers and his love for mathematics, he was certain that he would forever be committed to a career in computer programming. He was convinced that a life of coding and decoding was his ticket to happiness and success. No one told him that his “hobby”—his gift— could actually be a viable career.
His transition began when he took a drawing and designing class in undergrad; but even then being a professional artist was not on his radar. “Being an artist is not something people talk about. You don’t see people out there serving as role models. No one says, ‘This is what an artist is. This is actually a profession that is possible.’ That wasn’t my vision I couldn’t imagine that.” So instead he opted for a successful career in advertising; and although he was happy, he was not one-hundred percent fulfilled.
Motivated by the belief that each individual must put oneself in a position to make good things happen, Andre and his wife relocated to Jamaica so that he could focus on his art full-time. He finally came to the realization that advertising is what he does, but art is who he is. “I think about it all the time. It’s my job, but it doesn’t feel like a job! This art thing, it’s an addiction. I don’t go to sleep at night because I’m always thinking about it. It’s like, it’s bottled up inside me and I’m realizing that I have this thing that I truly love. I feel like I’m stepping into my truest self.” Andre tells Black Mens Dossier.
His Aha! Moment came about when he created the Jay-Z pushpin piece. The irony is that the piece was birth from a mistake. “I was practicing oil paint and I was like, ‘Okay, I feel really comfortable with this oil paint. Let me see what else I can do.’ I wanted to try a mixed medium or something like that, and I had this messed up canvas. I started playing around with it. I searched the house for things to use and I stumbled on some push pins in the closet. I thought, ‘this would be cool to use!’” Even his mother thought he was out of his mind when she saw the huge box of pushpins sitting in the middle of his living room. No one would have predicted that he would have created a work of art that has now been seen in some of the world’s most respected media outlets.
The artist admits that if you had asked him about being a full-time artist 10 years ago, he would have told you that the very notion was just plain crazy. He is now able to connect the dots and recognizes how both his education and work experiences have led him to this very moment. Each of Woolery’s creations are a fusion of art, mathematics and computer technology. He serves as an example that we all are a culmination of our experiences.
The self-admitted rebel is eager to disrupt the ecosystem of the art world by using his knowledge and experience in the digital space to give access to people throughout the globe. He wants to reach far beyond the one percent of art lovers who peruse the aisles of high-end art galleries in New York City and make art a more global experience. In fact, he recently modified his website so that he can ship to art lovers that span from the United States to the United Arab Emirates. “I’m trying to figure out how to crack the code and do it in a new world version,” he proclaims.
Although he is living his dream, Andre humbly professes that his most treasured accomplishment is not creating magnificent works of art, but rather knowing that he is constantly inspiring others to discover their truest selves. He simply wants people of color to know that they have options. Anytime he has a conversation with someone at a show, at an event or even via social media, he sieges the opportunity to educate and encourage them. Through him, individuals are able to take their own exploration through the art landscape. “I feel like art is a very powerful thing. It can be transformative and I’m just happy that I can expose people that look like me and come from the same background as me to this world.”
When asked what message would he like to share with the world, he had the following to say, “There are just so many people of color that have the creativity and power to be artist. They’re just so many folks that I run into and they are like ‘You know what? I’m going to start shooting film again. I’m going to start painting, drawing again. I’m going to pick up my camera and start taking pictures again,’ that’s the stuff that I love. Your passion is something that can be real. If you take it seriously it can be real for you. Your passion can become your profession.”
To find out more about Andre Woolery, or to purchase his pieces, please visit http://andrewooleryart.com