Modern Day Artist: Kevin Peterson
Kevin Peterson is a striking artist that’s not meant to be forgotten. What accompanies his incredible talent and skill is a sense of depth and nuance to his work that few artists can equally maintain. His work often features young children in possibly dystopian and urban settings. Most notable of all is that the company which surrounds the child isn’t human but instead animalistic. Typically feral creatures, such as a black bear or a fox, are depicted behaving with incredible tranquility around our one human character.
The scene that’s just been described is already a diverting one, but what makes Peterson’s works all the more notable is their impressive quality. He has an amazing grasp on texture, light, and shadow, allowing him to create such defined and realistic pieces. However, what’s more amazing than Peterson’s art style and pieces is his own background as a human being.
He was born in 1979 in Elko, Nevada, frequently moving around during his upbringing. Such various locations include Nevada, Michigan and Washington before Peterson ultimately arrived in Texas at the age of about seventeen-years-old. After graduating high school, he attended Austin College in Sherman, Texas, where he would ultimately graduate in 2001 with a degree in Fine Art and Psychology. Peterson pursued a career in Social Work and worked as a Probation Officer for 3 years in Austin.
However, the story takes an interesting turn as Peterson’s life started to be plagued by issues with drugs and alcohol. Such problems ultimately led to him being arrested and the loss of his job. To recover from the incident, Peterson went into a drug treatment center. It was there that he rediscovered his love and passion for making art, deciding to pursue that creative outlet full time after completing his treatment program. Since July 30, 2005, Peterson has been sober and completely enveloped in making art, often working with ThinkSpace Projects — a successful Los Angeles gallery that features artists of the New Contemporary Art Movement. According to a 2015 article with Street Art News, Peterson also has a wife and a baby whom he lives with in Houston, Texas.
In regards to the meaning behind his art, Peterson stated, “I’m trying to capture a moment. These moments usually contain a stark contrast between subject and environment. The innocence of a child against a ragged, defiled backdrop. I put a child in an environment that you wouldn’t normally see a young person alone, I think it’s a metaphor for growing up. It’s about that stuff we all go through that forms who we are as adults. Little traumas or sometimes big ones, all of those things that form our defenses and cause us to build walls and inner strength.” The concept of early adulthood is clear in his artworks by how young children are often seen on their lonesome only with the companionship of wild, even potentially dangerous animals.
He also elaborated that, “Time is another important aspect of my work. The way we change and the way our environment changes around us.” This is evidence by the decaying nature of the surroundings behind the subject matters. While it’s debatable whether such backgrounds are meant to symbolize a dystopian setting or simply a barren corner of an urban location, it’s the ambiguity and mystery behind these surroundings that make them so magnetic for the audience to look at.
Peterson is most definitely not an artist to be ignored. Though the true messages behind his artwork is debatable — possibly even to the artist himself, the ominous and intriguing settings of his pieces allows the viewer to formulate a hoard of potential and deeply personal theories about their true meaning.
Think Space Project, Kevin Peterson
Museum of Contemporary Art (Jacksonville), Kevin Peterson
BOOOOOOOM, “Wild” by Artist Kevin Peterson
Street Art News, Artist Interview: Kevin Peterson