When I was in elementary school I would finish my quizzes with time to spare. The top of the pages became my mini-art canvas. I would draw all over the tops and corners of my paper. My teachers would write, “Brian, great job on the quiz but please watch the doodling.” I was like why would anyone comment on a doodle if I did so well on a quiz?
Of course, I didn’t think of it as a doodle but as self-expression or what has now become my art. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing or thinking about painting, and this creative fire has never stopped.
I earned my fine arts and graphic arts design degree in 1985 from Morgan State University, completing all of my course work in 1981 (long story), and then worked as an illustrator and graphic designer in South Norwalk, Connecticut with my company named "Rags-a-tizing". I spent 14 years or so being a graphic artist, compugraphic typesetter, and production artist. Across my career, I have completed design projects for schools, museums, community agencies, small business owners, and corporations. Being an artist is a part of my identity and I also enjoy the field of psychology. I have earned my masters (1998) and doctorate in clinical psychology in 2000, another life achievement was being selected as the “Outstanding Student in Art” award, in the early 1980s, nominated by the art professors at Morgan.
My work often ends at the cross section of fantasism and realism, with using bold graphics that might appear first as caricatures, although my intention is not to mock. I explore the meaning we make of the known and newly discovered experiences connected to perceptions of "race", gender, and sexual orientation. My work is intended to be fun yet serious, graphic yet sublime.
As I continue to live at these intersections, by choice and fleeing all forms of irrational social domination, I know these places well. I have survived them -- and am still able to hold fragments of mystery, humor, and despair.
Brian Ragsdale, 12-3-2016