Motown Mademoiselle Arts: Caitlyn Lewis Sally Deskins December 22, 2017 Caitlyn Lewis is exhibiting at The Diamond Shop thru Dec. 29. She shares with Zackquill about how she got into art, why she loves being an artist in Morgantown and more. How did you end up in West Virginia? I’ve always lived in West Virginia. I was born and raised in Summersville, WV. When I was younger, I hated living there, as teenagers often do, but now when I think about the bond I have with this state, those memories of my childhood in Summersville are very sweet. I never had any intention of staying in WV during college, but I ended up at WVU regardless, and I’m thankful for it. How did you come to be an artist? I started college as a journalism major, but I didn’t feel satisfied with what I was doing. I’d always enjoyed art growing up but never pursued it because I didn’t think I could make a career out of it. I realized my junior year that painting is something that makes and improving my skills is very rewarding. I decided that I was willing to put in the work it would take to be successful in this field. I intend to continue my studies in graduate school after I graduate undergrad this December! How did this exhibition come about? Why is this important for the Morgantown community? It was organized by The Diamond Shop. I believe they had the idea for the show last spring and began collecting work from artists to participate. Megan picked my painting out from my studio space and I was happy to have been asked participate! I think the show is important for Morgantown in a broad sense because I believe figurative work is most relatable to those that are not directly connected to the art community. In other words, I think that work like this is most likely to engage ordinary viewers which is essentially in expanding the influence of the arts in a community. Advertisement How do you think the environment is for the arts in Morgantown? How do you think it could improve? Right now, I don’t think that the environment for the arts in Morgantown is not ideal. This is not to say that I don’t think it could improve. I believe that Morgantown has all the ingredients to become a flourishing arts community; the city is full of creative people, it is just waiting for the right opportunity to flourish and the people who are willing to put in the work to make it happen. I believe I am seeing many necessary improvements happen slowly but surely right now. For example, The Diamond Shop is a wonderfully positive contrivance that hundreds of people walk by every day. I’m also seeing many small business support local artists in ways that they had not previously. I have found the work of my peers in shops all over town, namely Terra Cafe which is located along the riverside in Star City. I think small business participation in the arts is a huge improvement, but I think local artists should also keep in mind that the area that they are working in is a college/blue collar community and in order to engage viewers in their work, access to it must be attainable. This isn’t to say that artists should under-value their work, but that they should look for arts appreciators in places they may not normally expect; the majority of the commissions I’ve received have been from mechanics and industrial workers that frequent the bar I work at. What is your favorite thing about being an artist in Morgantown? I love doing commissions in this area. The commissions I get give me some insight into what people really value in their lives. I am most frequently doing portraiture of the family members of my commissioners and I love that. I think it’s a beautiful thing. Any advice for young artists in the area? Don’t be afraid to tell people you’re an artist and show off your work. Many of my colleagues have mentioned that they worry people will not or do not respect them for pursuing a career as an artist, but that is not true. People will be incredibly supportive of your creativity if you take pride in it! What would people be surprised to know about you? I’m really into heavy metal and horror movies! I also play a lot of video games in my free time; I think I’d be very interested in doing video game art if the opportunity arose! – Visit the exhibit, Who Are We Now, at The Diamond Shop, 320 High St., in Morgantown, through Dec. 29. Facebook.com/diamondshop. For more of Caitlyn’s work follow her on Instagram @caitlynlewisart. Sally Deskins is an artist, writer and curator based in Morgantown. Send her ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.