CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Artist Anthony Young is known around town for his spot-on portraiture talent. Two of his charcoal sketches are currently featured at the Taylor Books Art Annex.
However, in a few years, don’t be surprised to find he has a larger following of art fans as he makes a big move to Boston.
The 25-year-old Charleston native recently completed his degree in fine art at West Virginia State University and accepted a scholarship for graduate studies at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, which is partnered with Tufts University. Its master of fine arts program is rated among the 10 most influential art programs in the world by Artspace magazine.
For now, he’s happy spending his summer as the first recipient of the ReDesign, Recycled Design Internship Award at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
“We are so happy to be working with Anthony. He is a very good fine artist — like drawing and painting. We were interested in how he was going to translate those art skills to repurposed and recycled materials. We knew when he came to the ReStore that he would figure out how to do that, and he has shown that he can,” said ReStore director Amy McLaughlin.
Young is the first recipient of the summer internship program, which is made possible by a partnership between Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam ReStore and West Virginia State University.
During the 10-week internship, Young will create a window display for the ReStore and artistically repurpose building materials, with a special emphasis on the paint department, to communicate the ReStore’s mission of funding the construction of Habitat for Humanity homes, McLaughlin said.
He is also finalizing plans to teach a community ReArt workshop at the ReStore on July 19 from 10 a.m. to noon. “I’m hoping people really think outside of the box and create a relief print they will really enjoy,” Young said.
The George Washington High School graduate says he has always had a knack for drawing, but it wasn’t until his early teen years that he realized his gift was something special.
“I’ve always drawn, but it was kind of on and off as a child, and it wasn’t until eighth grade going on ninth grade that my mom and aunt got me private art lessons. From there, I really stuck with it. I began to think of art as a career. My art teacher let me start taking lessons for free when my mom couldn’t afford it.
“I had done a painting of Vincent van Gogh’s room in acrylic. It was a really small painting and someone bought it for 50 bucks. And from there, I really thought that I might be able to do pretty good as an artist. It was a motivator,” Young said.
The young artist attributes part of his success as an artist to his late high school art teacher. “I had Mrs. Olivia Turner for art. She was really honest, and I think that’s a good thing for a young artist. She truly cared about people in general and wanted them to be the best they could be, but she passed away from cancer. I think she really prepared me for college,” Young said.
After high school, he continued his art studies through private instruction and in college.
“I’ve taken art lessons from a lot of people. I had private lessons with Chris Mary Linderman and Jack Miller before I went to college. We have really good faculty at West Virgina State University that really helped me to be prepared and helped me to boost myself up to another level,” Young said.
Young not only shows his artwork in the city; he also enjoys visiting area art displays. In August 2013, he made a trip to the Clay Center to see an exhibit that might have influenced the direction of his life and art career.
“I really liked Ethan Murrow’s show. Me and a friend, Sam, went to see him do the ballpoint pen installation at the Clay Center, and he was asking us questions about what different graduate schools we were looking at. He talked about the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where he teaches in Boston,” Young said.
Young said he applied to several of the best art schools in the country, one of which was the school Murrow had suggested. When he was asked to interview, Young sent Murrow an email.
“I asked Ethan for advice on what I should do. He congratulated me and told me some things to prepare myself. A lot of my faculty helped prep me for it too. It’s a very highly rated school for a master’s in fine arts degree and is in collaboration with Tufts University. It encourages working in various mediums, so I thought that would be something that would help me expand as an artist,” Young said.
The School of the Museum of Fine Arts also offered him an attractive scholarship, which helped him make a decision in the school’s favor.
“I would like to be able to solely make a living off my artwork. That’s what my main goal would be, and to be a successful contemporary artist,” Young said.
“I don’t like to have things too planned out. I like things to happen naturally. Anymore, I try to keep an open mind and just accept what happens. I try to strive for the best and be the best I can possibly be. Usually good things happen from there. A lot of people get stuck in a comfort zone. You have to be willing to take risks and make mistakes with your art,” Young said.
The artist has a large local fan base rooting for his success in Boston and in life. Fortunately, in addition to that and despite his youth, he appears to have a wisdom beyond his years:
“I like a quote from Public Enemy, ‘Don’t let a win get to your head or a loss to your heart.’ I’ve won a lot of things, and I’ve lost a lot of things. You have to keep a balance. I try to set a good example, and I believe that if you stick with what you enjoy, eventually you’ll be able to succeed at it and you’ll be able to live happily from it,” Young said.
Reach Judy E. Hamilton at email@example.com or 304-348-1230.
want to go?
Second Time Around relief print workshop
WHAT: Artist Anthony Young will teach participants to make relief prints using old building materials including laminate flooring, cove base and paneling. Participants will make their own reusable shopping bag or can bring an old T-shirt and make it new again with their own signature style.
WHEN: July 19, 10 a.m. to noon
WHERE: Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 815 Court St.
AGE: 12 years and older
CONTACT: To register, call Amy McLaughlin at 304-720-0141, ext. 22, or email firstname.lastname@example.org