Student artist fights LGBT stigmas through chalk portraits


Tanat Maichan

‘Bliss’ is a chalk on paper painting from Carter Bryant.

Centuries of images portray women as muses in art, song and society. Carter Bryant, a sophomore, redefines the traditional image of this muse in his Cadman Gallery exhibition.

“My idea behind this body of work was to explore the idea of the muse and change the classic muse depicted throughout history,” Bryant said. “In the past, muses have been sexualized females often depicted as objects to show the men in their life owned them. I am showing my muse differently.”

Bryant illustrated his boyfriend, which allows him to positively redefine the image of a muse and illuminate their healthy and loving relationship.

“I wanted to convey the wide range of emotions we have shared to show that it is not very different from a standard heterosexual relationship,” Bryant said. “My goal was to alleviate any stigmas people had toward gay relationships.”

Bryant studies art education and studio art with an emphasis in paintings. For the gallery, Bryant chose to use chalk as his medium for portraying their relationship.

“I use chalk when I want to depict something realistically,” Bryant said. “I wanted people to be able to feel the emotions like they were leaking from the paper, so I drew his portraits in a photorealistic style.”

Part of exploring the photorealistic style of the portraits meant exploring vulnerability for Bryant in daily life. Though challenging, expressing vulnerabilities in this art humanizes the subject, and develops a greater connected story for himself and viewers.

“This show was difficult to create at times because it required me to be very vulnerable,” Bryant said. “I had to be very open about my relationship, which is especially difficult when there are a lot of people who do not approve of or support the LGBT community.”

“As a member of the LGBT community, there is a certain level of fear I live with,” Bryant said. “One of the factors of this fear is in going out in public with my boyfriend.”

By portraying his relationship through art, Bryant invites the public into his relationship through a new avenue.

The gallery also allows Bryant to develop his own message as an artist and educator.

“I think this show is a good start to me building my teaching philosophy,” Bryant said. “I want my future students to accept and love their self, and hopefully they will be confident enough to express themselves in whichever way they choose.”