What inspires an artist? In this series, creative people in the Triangle answer that question to offer a better understanding of why they create the work they do.
Mixed-media artist Alyssa Hinton’s work is all about transformation.
For Hinton, who has both Tuscarora and Osage Native American ancestors, much of her work centers on reawakening indigenous tradition and earth conscious values.
As Native Americans in the South — at a time when American perception of race was literally black and white — her ancestors were lumped together with African-Americans. This was just one way, along with massacres, renaming and disappearing, that her ancestors were forced to transform because of their identity.
She uncovered this in bits and pieces because it is not often openly talked about. “Some people are born to dig it up, to pull things out that have been swept under the rug,” she says.
In bringing this history to light, Hinton started a transformation for not only her own identity, but others. Her focus reinforced a desire to show people values important to her ancestors: an earth spirituality that she feels has been lost.
Though her own circumstances relating to transformation are specific, the struggles she depicts in her work are relatable for many people, because transformation is a universal circumstance. Whether its ancestral, cultural or ethical, transformation is something all people experience. Once people awaken to that transformation, perhaps they will be open to recognizing a need for change in their relationship to the earth.
To illustrate how the need for earth transformation inspires Hinton, we visited one of her favorite locations: the Eno River.
Hinton is part of an exhibit at Pleiades Gallery in Durham that’s up through Feb. 14 called “Pleiades Plus One.” The Third Friday reception on Jan. 16 will be hosted by ArtsNow.
Click on the images below to read more of her thoughts on inspiration.
Photos by Beth Mandel