Artist Interview: DXTROSE x Franklinton Friday Summer Series 2022
In June 2022, I was proud to partner with the Franklinton Arts District and Land Grant Brewing Company for the return of the Franklinton Friday Summer Series, where the Land Grant Beer Garden stage is home to live local music on the second Friday of each month through September. These shows are free to the public in conjunction with Franklinton Fridays, and serve as an opportunity to showcase immensely talented local musical and visual artists.
Each month, Land Grant also releases a limited-edition benefit beer that features the artwork from a local visual artist; a portion of the beer’s proceeds are then donated back to the Franklinton Arts District to support the art and artists in our community. Concurrently, their partners at Side Hustle Syndicate host an exhibit of the feature visual artist at the Side Hustle Gallery inside the Columbus Idea Foundry during Franklinton Friday.
PRIDE was the theme of June 2022's Franklinton Friday Summer Series, and the limited time Franklinton Friday Benefit Beer – which released on Friday, June 10, was a Blueberry Mosaic Tart Ale, featuring artwork illustrated by yours truly, DXTROSE (Dexter Komakaru).
As part of the Summer Series, I was interviewed for Land Grant's blog for the project. Below is a transcript of the interview, and the full piece can be read on Land Grant's blog post here.
WHAT'S YOUR BACKGROUND? HOW DID YOU GET INTO YOUR ART?
DXTROSE: Outside of maxing out all of the available public school classes in high school related to art and art history and a 2-year Art Portfolio concentration at the Fort Hayes Career Center, I never had a formal arts education. I’ve always liked to say that one day when I was young I just “picked up a crayon and never put it back down” because I never want to discount the hard work and nonstop hours I’ve put into my work so far, but I also come from a family of dreamers and creatives.
Before I knew words I knew symbols, whether it was the letters I’d get from my mom while she was incarcerated that’d always include an illustration of something beautiful, my grandmother who made her own traditional Native American bead work, my makeup artist sister, or my tattoo artist uncles who I’d ask to teach me how to draw, maybe just making things is in my genes. I’ve just always done it.
WHY IS MAKING ART IMPORTANT TO YOU?
DXTROSE: Over the years, I’ve realized the core of everything I create has come down to three main ideas: art, activism, and access. Incorporating my experience in youth leadership around community organizing, intersectional activism, storytelling for social change, I’ve learned the power that comes with story, and I use art to share mine. My mission is all about making my insights, experiences, and education on art and how art influences change with others by making the information, resources, and my artwork accessible.
It’s my hope that by sharing these stories, knowledge, and practices through my life and my work, that something will resonate with people who relate to the hardships I’ve experienced, as well as provide inspiration to other aspiring artists for disrupting systemic cycles of harm and navigating a creative practice under oppressive systems from an abolitionist and community driven lens.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO PARTICIPATE IN THE FRANKLINTON FRIDAYS SUMMER SERIES?
DXTROSE: For me, being able to participate in the Franklinton Friday’s Summer Series feels like a homecoming, and means a lot to me. As a 614 Native, born-and-raised, I grew up in extreme poverty and difficult circumstances in the neighborhood known as “The Bottoms” right between the Franklinton and Hilltop neighborhoods. Everyday after elementary school I would ride the bus to the Homeless Families Foundation’s Center right across Main St. from the Franklinton Arts District. No matter how impoverished I was though, I could always find something to draw with.
Growing up struggling, you learn how to be creative through survival, and I was able to save and create my own life through my art. Instead of viewing my life as lacking, I was able to see it more as an empty canvas I could use to draw up a creative practice that has allowed me to create my own future, career, and opportunities beyond my own wildest dreams.
To say that this opportunity means a lot to me is an understatement, especially being able to have this opportunity during Pride Month as a human of queer and transgender experience. I never had a blueprint for what surviving in this world as a person who meets so many intersections of marginalization looks like, let alone what thriving or being able to determine my own destiny would look like. This opportunity as well as the art I’ve put together for it I hope serve as inspiration to someone else that being able to create something so much bigger for oneself is possible for them too.
You can check out more of DXTROSE’s work at https://www.dxtrose.com/, and connect with @dxtrose on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.