Winners of the Exponent Art Scholarship: Karyn Dudley

Last year, Exponent started an annual art scholarship for Mormon women of color. The goal of the scholarship continues to be to amplify the voices of LDS women artists of color by lending needed support for them to be able to continue to develop their art.

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing the work and words of some of the recipients of that scholarship. These extraordinary women have the ability to seismically change the artistic language of the Church: imagine Come Follow Me manuals, Church members’ homes or Church building hallways full of their work. We’re grateful that they shared it with this community and look forward to announcing this year’s scholarship very soon. If you’d like to contribute to the fund for this year’s scholarship, please contact exponentiieditor AT gmail DOT com.

Karyn Dudley: I call myself an artist because that is who I am in my soul for as long as I can remember. When I was young, my grandmother noticed my artistic ability and gave me a box of random things to see what I could do with it. It had pencils, paper, glue, material scraps and other odds and ends. At the time I didn’t do anything brilliant or breath taking, but I do remember spending hours creating drawings with people featuring button eyes and fabric hair. Eventually I would go to college as an art major.

 Unfortunately I was also a poor student. So when having to make the choice between food and rent or purchasing art supplies for class, food and rent won out. That was back in the 80’s. I felt my “arting” was a thing of the past.

 Fast Forward to about 4 years ago:  my daughter sent me to one of the popular “Paint Nite” activities as a birthday gift. I lost myself in it. Something that was lying dormant woke up with a vengeance! I had gone to a couple more  “Paint Nites” after that and thought… I can do this at home!

 One weekend I headed to Hobby Lobby and  $375 later emerged with enough Art supplies that would keep me enraptured in my glorious hobby for quite some time. Any spare moment I had I could be found  sketching and painting. I found I had a million faces and expressions in me bursting to come forward. Some of them were religious and political and just good ole fashion fun and frivolous. Each creation was a friend I was waiting to meet! And when the art started communicating with me, I knew THIS is what I was put on Earth to do: have a voice and teach other to have a voice through art expression.


 So basically overnight I created  “KarynMichelle- Creative Expressions.”  I am now an independent artist with a small unrecognized business.  “Speaking is not your only voice” is my Slogan! “ART out loud” is my Motto. I specialize in ethnic art.   Anything from Black Jesus to Black Ballet dancers. People of color are not easily found in art doing everyday positive things. They aren’t easily found in likenesses that are modest , loving , and show everyday living. I would like to create more of that vision so we, especially the youth, see ourselves as more than booty and hips and thugs and lips. The world needs to see likenesses of People of Color that are more than what is stereotypically seen in the media.

 I have a vision of a mobile art unit traveling from place to place around the community: local libraries, community centers, after school programs, summer “art in the park” classes and even farmer’s markets and fairs and providing art experiences. I would teach people  young and old how art is a way of communicating and expressing themselves and give them the opportunity to create and express themselves through art.

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