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Chambers Draws Artistic Inspiration from Reading

Dominic Chambers discusses his work and career during a recent interview for Milwaukee Public Television.

Dominic Chambers, left, discusses his work and career during a recent interview for Milwaukee Public Television.

For Dominic Chambers, reading is fundamental. Success in his chosen profession, Chambers believes, depends on his ability to read.

Chambers is an aspiring professional artist. So how does reading figure into his success?

“Most of my ideas stem from the literary narratives cited in the books that I have read,” said Chambers, a graduate of the art program at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley. “In my opinion, reading is the best way to enhance your imagination. Our ability to channel creative ideas is what helps us thrive as artists.

Chambers, 23, earlier this year earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD). He is having great success in the art scene in Milwaukee. He just had a major show of his work at Pitch Project Galley, had an essay written about his work by Leah Kolb, associate curator at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and has been asked to participate in several more shows. Chambers also gave a lecture about his work at MIAD, was invited to be a visiting artist/critic at DePauw University in 2017, and recently was interviewed by Milwaukee Public Television.

“Dominic is a special young man with a drive to excel,” said Robert Langnas, professor of art at STLCC-Florissant Valley. “Dominic is perhaps the most enthusiastic and engaged student I have worked with in my 26 years of teaching art.  He is absolutely passionate about learning and about art in general.”

Langnas noted at Chambers’ formative years were difficult to say the least. They were dotted with violence, death and even homelessness. The Hazelwood East graduate received little support, Langnas said, from surviving family members who have been critical of his academic efforts.

“Dominic has had the good sense and the confidence to confront, rather than avoid, painful memories and to use them as a foundation for his conceptually rich artworks,” Langnas said. “Family, identity — both personal and cultural — social commentary, and pain are themes he has dealt with.”

Langnas has never doubted Chambers’ ability to succeed as an artist. In 2014, Chambers received MIAD’s annual scholarship to attend Yale University’s Norfolk Summer School – an important program where Chambers networked with – and clearly impressed – art faculty from Yale. The MIAD instructors also gave him the school’s annual award to study a semester at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He is the only student in MIAD’s history to win both these prestigious honors.

“My professors and peers are definitely my biggest inspirations,” Chambers said. “My professors are always offering great feedback and support whenever I need it, and they have remained a solid support system for me as I have made my way through school and as I begin to establish myself as an artist.”

The highly motivated Chambers also draws support from a tight circle of friends.

“I am fortunate enough to have an incredible group of young, ambitious and prolific artist as friends,” he said. “They constantly push me and introduce me to new artists, books and ideas. My desire to have my work respected by these people have always been a driving force for me.”

While his career is just beginning to take off, Chambers hopes to complete graduate school studies and exhibit nationally. He also may teach at some point.

“For me, education through reading and the pursuit of knowledge has changed my life greatly,” Chambers said. “It is important that I position myself to engage with younger minds and encourage them to not underestimate the possibilities that exist through the pursuit of education and knowledge.”