Columbus Makes Art Presents DonCee Coulter on His Process and Inspirations in Fiber Art
Don “DonCee” Coulter is one of five fiber artists exhibiting in the Greater Columbus Arts Council’s latest gallery exhibition, Entangled Threads, curated by Lyn Logan-Grimes of the King Arts Complex. We chatted with him about his work, inspirations and process.
Nick: How long have you been creating?
DonCee: I’ve been creating art since as far as I can remember. As a young kid, I often would frustrate my parents. They would spend lots of money on Christmas and birthday gifts only to see me discard the toys and start creating with the styrofoam and boxes.
Nick: How do you describe your work to a newcomer?
DonCee: I’ve always struggled with describing my work. In my mind, I am just creating art. Officially, I’d say it is fabric collage style artwork.
Nick: Who are some of your inspirations?
DonCee: My father was the first artist I was inspired by. My uncle and grandfather were artists as well. As I grew older, I discovered works by Ernie Barnes, Walt Neil, Aminah Robinson and Elijah Pierce. However, it was a chance meeting with Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson that made me realize I was an artist. I, too, had hoop dreams and visions of playing in the NBA. Magic Johnson had just given a pep talk at basketball camp about commitment, focus and hard work. I soon realized all those things were second nature to me when it comes to art. No one had to tell me that. It was embedded in my soul. Art was my future.
Nick: What’s your process for creating a new piece?
DonCee: Typically, I will start with a drawing and layout. Once each image is identified, I will break it down into different geometric and/or organic shapes (this is a technique influenced by studying cubism). Next, these shapes are cut from fabric and assembled to create the overall image. This process is repeated until the artwork is completed.
Nick: What pieces of yours are in the new GCAC gallery exhibition?DonCee: I chose four pieces for this show based on events over the past year.
“Under Duress” — I was once asked how do you think America views the black male? I thought about the neighborhood I grew up in and how the drug trade influenced it. We all were viewed as a threat by law enforcement, society in general and even our own. This piece was a generalization of how I felt America viewed the black male.
“Why?” — This piece was inspired by a conversation with a mother of a newborn. She talked about the innocence in her son’s eyes and asked how does she prepare him for life? She had genuine concerns of the world her son would face and how society views black males.
“We’re Gonna Work It Out” — This piece explores internal and external issues of relationships. A couple managing to weather the storm through tough times by focusing on their strength and love. Will they survive?
“The Seventies Groove” — Originally, this was a nostalgic, fun-loving ode to the 70s. I wanted to pay homage to many members of my own family like former NBA player/coach Jim Cleamons and R&B group Penny & The Quarters. I was halfway complete with this piece when I received a phone call. “Did you see it?” my friend asked. “I’m working on art, what did I miss?” I replied. My friend was referring to the murder of George Floyd. I took about a two-week break from art after that. When I resumed the piece, I couldn’t ignore the magnitude of the situation and the piece would go into a totally different direction.
Nick: Is there anything else readers should know about you?
DonCee: Just know I put my heart and soul into my work. Each piece of art I create is unique in its own way. I love sharing what I do and continue to evolve and learn as an artist.
See DonCee’s work in Entangled Threads at the Arts Council’s gallery (182 E. Long St.) through Sept. 2, 2021. The gallery is open to the public Tuesdays to Fridays, 10 am to 2 pm.
Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting and advancing the arts and cultural fabric of Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. Learn more about local artists, organizations, public art and events at ColumbusMakesArt.com.