Meet The Artist: 5 Questions with Tennyson Corley

Meet The Artist: 5 Questions with Tennyson Corley

Our "Take Flight" exhibition is in its final week so to close out this exciting show, we're pleased to bring you one last exclusive interview with one of the participating artists. In this feature, you will meet Tennyson Corley! 

Tell us about you! How long have you been an artist and what is your focus?

I believe everyone is born an artist, but we lose it if we don't nurture it. Luckily, I was raised by an artist who encouraged me to hone my skills, experiment, and believe in my craft. I have been showing professionally since 2010, with a break to find my footing as a mother around 2014, and picking my artistic practice back up around 2018.

My focus with my two dimensional work references avian imagery over expressionistic backgrounds. My birds are representative of, be it, actual symbolic meaning and sometimes implied symbolism through old family wives tales and personal connections. As for my backgrounds, they are chaotic, like that of overgrown habitats that these creatures call home.

How would you describe your style?

My style is a marrying of realism and abstract expressionism. I find it more liberating to start a canvas with the freedom to see where it takes me. Once I find the background is done, I am able to see what bird it is invoking.

What kind of techniques and materials do you use in your work?

I love to be able to throw everything at a canvas and see what happens. Process over product, until we get to the birds. My art tools include countless acrylic mediums, oil sticks, caran dache, palette knives, and the list could go on.

Tennyson Corley

What kinds of birds appear in your work? What do they represent?

My birds, as explained previously, have symbolic meaning. Most of the time, I have given them my own implied meaning, such as the Zebra Finch in Where My Girls At?, which is that of joy. Growing up, I had a pair of finches and they always seemed to 'party' until it was time for bed. This one is more of a personal totem for me.

The Mocking bird in Overgrowth Warden is symbolic of protection. They are persistent in protecting. In Jungle Fever, the warbler is symbolic of change and new beginnings. It is a reminder to let go of the past and embrace the new. Lastly, we have Budgie. Painted during the pandemic, I thought it would be fun to focus on birds we find in our homes. The parakeet represents happiness, which during lockdown, I think we all needed a huge dose of.

Looking back at this year, what would you say was one of your biggest achievements in your art career? What are you looking forward to in 2023?

As an artist, I have a bucket list of things I want to accomplish in my career. This year, I was able to mark off my number one goal. What was this goal, you ask? Oh, just creating a public art project with Audubon South Carolina at Folly Beach's Light House Heritage Preserve. (Pinch me because I still don't believe it is real!) This project included a mural/interactive piece created off site at my home studio in Columbia, South Carolina, and a series of murals along the walkway to the beach that were created on site. Each piece is a call to action in protecting our native shorebirds that nest on the beach each year. To read more about the project click here