Today we’d like to introduce you to Tiélere Cheatem.
Hi Tiélere, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
My story started very early for me with my art in Evansville, Indiana. Art is hereditary for me on both sides of my family and has always been in my life, so it came a little naturally for me. My uncle, Allen Cheatem, was one of my biggest aspirations as an artist. His brilliant paintings and sketches of famous black jazz artists and authors always came to life and had such depth. I always felt like I could hear the music from his work and later learned that I was not the only one who felt that way. His art had that effect on many. It was that and seeing Gustav Klimt’s work that really ignited my passion for art. I had an amazing art instructor growing up named Cynthia Pate, who instilled the discipline and respect for art as well as the patience and understanding of how to go about creating a piece. After a long break from my art, I got back into it back in 2016 taking on the name The Rusty Artist, and thus my artistic career was born. In 2018 I won Best In Show with the Metro Trans Umbrella Group’s (MTUG) “Transcending The Spectrum Art Show” and have had work appear in productions such as The Shakespeare Festival St. Louis “A Late Night Summer’s Night Stroll” and “A Walking Xmas Carol”. The St. Louis Actor’s Studio’s “Predilections”, Community Arts Festival “Live at The Grandel”, and Fly North’s world premiere of “The Gringo”.
Back in 2020, I joined Painted Black STL, an organization created to empower black artists within the community. Through this partnership and others, I have been able to mentor and educate younger generations in the arts in hopes to uplift their voices and inspire them to achieve their dreams.
With all this and more, I have been doing what I love and living what feels like a dream come true. I get to honor younger me who had such big dreams and hopes.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
This journey has been a journey of trials and success. But mostly a journey of joy. I am newly 30 and have already accomplished so much on my bucket list. Though it did take me a while to find my own voice as a black queer artist, often at times I felt like I didn’t fit into any category nor was I welcomed, but I knew I had to keep going and share and my gift with the world. I’ve met some brilliant and beautiful minds that helped shape me along the way. Minds that help me realize I was never meant to fit into a category or group but to stand out and shine. I honor them for that by continuing with my journey.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a visual artist who specializes in oils and mixed media. My style is Surreal Expressionism. I also perform professionally on stage here in St. Louis. So both my worlds often blend in the best of ways and I LOVE it! I have had work on stages such as the Actor’s Studio, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, done live paintings on stage with the St. Louis Classical Guitar Orchestra, and so much more. With every piece I’ve done, I have been able to tell a story and connect with my audience through my art. I feel what sets me apart is the fact that my work makes captures the attention of others and makes them everything I want them to feel and more.
Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
I LOVE risk-taking. “No risk, no reward”. I have often said to others that “Sometimes you just have to jump into the shark’s pit and do it. No delay, just do it. Full out.” Last year was the year of what I call “Leap of Faith”. During the lockdown and protests, I did a number of murals in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, lost my main jobs and contracts due to covid, and took my art business full-time. It was scary to do so because I wasn’t sure what my outcome was going to be during a time where the world has shut down and whether or not my existence mattered was on the table. But I knew in my heart that I had no other choice, it was now or never. I am so glad I did. Working publicly during a pandemic and protests was nerve-wracking, but then I remembered why I was even out there to begin with. I had a message to share, and my story and others to tell. I am the oldest of seven and it’s my personal opinion that I must lead by example not just for me but for my younger siblings. They need to know that the work must be done and the risks must be taken. I want them to see I didn’t once give up and I gave it my all, as they should do the same.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.therustyartist.com
- Instagram: @rustyartist
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