When School of Theatre and Dance alumnus Timothy Paul Myers (BFA 1996) goes on his daily five-block walk from his home in Brooklyn to his art studio, he is constantly overwhelmed by beautiful sculptures that seem to appear around every corner. Most of us would consider these sculptures trash – an old, beat up shopping cart or a stack of discarded cardboard boxes. Myers, however, has developed a unique perspective that drives his work as a visual artist, and upon which he has built a rewarding career.
The genesis of his inspiration? Acting class.
Originally from Adelaide, South Australia, Myers joined a global arts outreach theatre group after high school that toured the United States, including a stop in Lubbock. As Myers tells it, Dr. Richard Weaver, then-Director of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the time, introduced himself after the performance and offered him a scholarship should he decide to study acting at Texas Tech.
Myers returned to Australia and spent the next few months considering Dr. Weaver's invitation. Eventually, he asked him if his offer still stood. Recalling their conversation, Dr. Weaver assisted Myers in securing funding for his education. Six months later, Myers was in Lubbock.
At first, Myers was unsure about his decision, "The first few days I was so homesick. I was ready to go back home, but then I stepped into an eleven o'clock acting class, and it changed my life." The class, taught by the late Dr. George Sorensen, former Professor of Theatre Arts, would have a lasting impact on Myers: "That man didn't just shape me as an actor, but as an artist. I still carry all the tools he hooked me up with when I was in school. It was a profound experience."
After graduating from Texas Tech, Myers moved straight to New York City, but things did not work out quite as he expected: "I had a shot at being an actor, and I really thought that's what I wanted to do. But theatre to me was very much connected to my experience at Texas Tech. When my collaborations fell short of that experience, I began to feel really disconnected from it. So, I started putting that energy into making art."
Myers rented a 200 square foot studio in Brooklyn and devoted himself entirely to making visual art. "I became wholly obsessed. All I wanted to do was be in my studio making art. And the obsession has never subsided." Despite having no formal training in visual art making, Myers has developed quite a career, and his creations have been consistently featured in major galleries over the past eight years.
Myer's work is currently on display in galleries in New York City, Los Angeles, and Australia. He is also involved in an international commission-based contemporary art program sponsored by The Peninsula Hotels called "Art in Resonance". His site-specific installation, Alizarin, features furniture, suitcases, and other everyday items, wrapped meticulously in a deep, red felt, and is currently featured in the lobby of The Peninsula's hotel in Hong Kong.
Myers explains his approach: "I've always been a collector of random things – 35 mm slides, old cameras – things that tell a story about humanity. I sometimes collect objects that aren't even really old, but I can see the interaction that a human has had with them. And then I archive the history of these objects by covering them with felt."
Recently, Myers stumbled upon a quote from Andy Warhol: "If everyone isn't beautiful, then no one is." In an epiphany, he extended Warhol's meaning to apply to all things, "If everything isn't beautiful, nothing is." This idea has become a sort of mantra for Myers.
"It sounds poetic, but it's true and profound. It's like I have this feeling people are building sculptures just up in front of me out of sight and then I turn the corner and experience them. I have started collecting some of these things. I found an ATM dumped on the street just outside of my studio – someone stole it, stole the money out of it. It's been pried open violently. You can see the desperation, the human interaction, all of the information is right there."
Myers's work is audacious, thought-provoking--clearly the result of a unique artistic mind. While it may seem a far cry from the work of an actor, Myers disagrees: "I don't feel like I made any transition from making theatre to making visual art. It's all the same thing. It's the same energy. The medium is slightly different, and the product is slightly different, but not vastly different at all. I'm not using a different part of my brain. I really feel like I'm still doing the same thing."
To learn more about Timothy Paul Myers and view his work, visit his website.