Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Calix Socrates Smith, Jr. and I’m a concept driven visual artist, black hippie, protagonist for love and the hater of racism, sexism, classism and any form of oppression that keeps people from seeing each other as equals.
How did you start making art?
The truth is, it started out as a lie to classmates in primary school. My dad was pretty good with a pencil and he used to draw me pictures and I would take them to school and say with conviction that “these are mine, I drew these!” They called my bluff and I set out to prove them wrong and myself right. I spent a lot of time at my Nana and Pa’s house honing my skills. I proved them wrong.
What themes do you pursue in your art?
Taking topics that we as Bermudians seldom talk about or don’t want to talk about, and instigating a conversation that will go beyond the gallery space. It has always been my understanding that art galleries are forums for artists and we can discuss anything there. I take that to heart and because of that, I have discussed the importance of embracing and acknowledging black culture, racism, the sexualization of our youth, love, sexism/misogyny, LGBTQ rights, domestic violence, institutions and what they mean culturally and socially… and the list goes on.
What do you dislike about your work?
If I dislike anything about my work, it would be that it hasn’t fully captured the consciousness of the people yet. Unfortunately a lot of the people I want to talk to don’t enter art galleries. But this next generation of artists (myself included), are in the process of changing that.
What do you like about your work?
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
The D.I.E. movement, Charles Llyod Tucker and Dr. Edwin Smith. They all have qualities that I admire and even though I’m not to keen on being compared to other artists, if I was compared to these guys… it would be more than ok.
What is your dream project?
Well, I have two and at the moment I have been creating one. For a few years I have been using social media (Facebook) as a creative medium. This ongoing work is called “The Phrenology of Socrates: Running out of fucks to give.” The other is a really cool concept that I’ve cooked up with Michael Walsh, so if anyone out there is willing to donate or contribute funds to a brilliant project, hit me up and we will get the ball rolling, but I’m serious about [it] though.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
It was before I started my career as an artist, it was the prompt. A good friend that I have known for years, Aaron Eversley, told me “if you wake up tomorrow and this is still what you want to do, then do it.” I haven’t looked back since.
Do you have a favourite artist? What draws you to that person’s work?
My favourite artist at the moment is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her writing style is captivating, beautiful and very powerful. She embodies the strength, beauty, intellect and grace that I admire about black women. Also, I admire the way she uses her power as an artist, to speak up and use her voice to support and stand up for causes she believes in.
What is the world you are trying to create/magnify for your audience?
If anything, I want Bermudians to take an honest, critical and meaningful look at our culture. Lets stop trying to hold up the illusion of paradise, but instead, build one. Build a paradise that we can ALL enjoy, not just a few.
If you had the chance to say anything to the world, what would it be?
Every human being was born an artist. We only lose that creativity when we are untaught. No matter what anyone says or does, don’t give up your artistic/creative side… the world would be a s@#&*y place without us.
Do you worry more about being liked or about being honest?
At this point in my life, being honest is way more important. I think the desire to be liked can impair our better judgement and we could end up with relationships that do nothing for bettering us as individuals.
Is there anything that could ever convince you to stop creating?
Nothing, not a thing.
How did it feel to win the Best of Bermuda Award for Best Artist this year?
I didn’t know how to quantify my feelings, initially. I am supremely grateful for being voted in and then chosen by the panel of judges. I have creative friends that have won in this category and it’s awesome to be in their company. It’s also great to know that I was able win something that other Bermudian artists that I admire have won before me. I hope that my win adds to the validity and prestige of this award because this award celebrates Bermudians and that within itself is a beautiful thing. Bermudians praising Bermudians—can’t beat that.
If someone wanted to purchase your work or commission you how can they best contact you?
Just hit me up on Instagram (@sexualized_in_the_90s) or message me on Facebook (calix smith).