Warren Hynson: Openshaw Artist in Residence
"My artwork tells the story of my journey so far in life. It tells the story of me losing myself and finding myself again."
I remember when I lived in Virginia, I went on a field trip to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
I remember all my classmates running around while I stood silently in awe as I stared at the paintings on the wall. I knew at that moment I wanted to be an artist.
I remember going to Washington & Lee High School in Montross, Virginia, where I was Vice President of the Art Club.
I remember my favorite teacher, Mrs. Holly Ransome, encouraging me to pursue art and to think about going to an art school after graduation.
I remember my father telling me that, if I wanted to go to college, it would be best for me to join the military, so they would pay for my education. I did not want to be a soldier.
I remember rebelling, leaving my father’s house at the age of sixteen, and going to my mother’s house in Maryland to live. I remember going to Gwynn Park High School and struggling to fit in.
I remember my frustrations weighing heavily on me mentally, physically, and spiritually.
I remember quitting school, and running with the wrong crowd. I remember getting kicked out of my mother’s house because I was out of control. I did not want to be an artist anymore.
I remember the struggle, the suffering, the pain, and the anger.
I remember turning to alcohol to escape everything that was going on.
I remember many nights ending with me being heavily intoxicated, hungry, and passing out in parking lots. I remember wanting to go home, but not being welcomed.
I remember when I stopped caring.
I remember being a lost soul.
I remember on June 27, 1991, when I was seventeen, I was involved in a burglary in which a man, Mr. John Milton Branch, lost his life.
During the burglary, I was shot point blank with a 12-gauge shotgun and knocked unconscious when the fatal bullets were fired.
In the State of Maryland, it does not matter who the trigger man is when someone is murdered. By law, everyone involved in the underlying felony is as guilty as the trigger man.
I was originally sentenced to Natural Life plus five years. In 2001, the same judge who sentenced me, William D. Missouri, found it in his heart to reduce my life sentence to 43 years…
I finally came home on September 24, 2019
I remember losing myself.
I remember dying inside.
I remember contemplating taking my own life.
I remember things starting to change when I met fellow artists behind bars: Robert Farmer, Clifton Footes, William X, Delonte “Chip” Kingsberry, Larry Owens, Darryl “Sane” Pratt and Elvis Terron. Their artwork inspired me.
Their artwork amazed me.
Then I remembered being that child at the National Gallery of Art. Again, I was in awe.
Today, my artwork tells the story of my journey so far in life. It tells the story of me losing myself and finding myself again.
It shares my pain, my struggle, my fears, my enlightenment, my growth, and my evolution.
My artwork sends the message that no matter how dark it is, there is always a spark of light to focus on.
My artwork can speak for itself. So, take your time, and listen to each painting carefully.
I am an artist.