Culture

Andre Woolery’s Thumbtack Paintings: Obama, Kanye and Jay-Z

Thu., Jun. 7, 2012 7:42 AM EDT
by Yvette Caslin

It’s more than a work of art. Andre Woolery’s mixtape series featuring Jay-Z (“The Tackover”), “It’s All About the Benjamins,” Kanye West (“Tacks on Tacks on Tacks”), President Barack Obama (“Wet Paint”), Jimi Hendrix (“Electric Feel”) are works of wonder. Using an everyday office tool, the newfangled artist has revolutionized the way we use thumbtacks.

Woolery used brightly colored thumbtacks to paint these icons, breaking away from his typical medium: oil paint.  On average, the portraits are between two and nine feet tall and use thousands of thumbtacks. Jay-Z’s required 7,633.

Here, the self-taught artist talks self-discovery and Albert Einstein. –yvette caslin

When did you discover you were an artist?
I took off for part of the summer about three years ago to do some creative exploration and I had so many ideas and things I wanted to try … painting, photography and film. Ultimately, I fell in love with painting. I returned to work and dedicated my nights and weekends to art. I work in advertising during the day. Since they are both very creative, I feel that’s a good way to balance those two worlds.

What can art lovers expect to see at eMerge: Danny Simmons & Artists on the Cusp, the exhibition at Strivers Garden Gallery?
Most of the artists showing have interesting work and go beyond how people traditionally see art. I think that’s part of why my art work will be included. It’s something that is a little bit different, a different medium. I use thumbtacks, pushpins and oil paint. This occasion is a really good time to go in and have newer expectations than when you go and see two-dimensional paintings. It will be more magnetic and you can see how things that are current place in your life are used in a unique way.

I decided to carve my own path because…
I wanted to spend time doing what fulfills me.

People say I am…
Creative and energetic.

Most of my colleagues weren’t aware that…
That I was an artist on the side and my home is my gallery/studio.

I most enjoy…
Painting at night.

The most profound quote, I’ve ever heard is… 
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited to what we all know now and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand” by Albert Einstein.

My proudest accomplishment to date is…
Deciding to take that month off work and set my life on this course.

The best advice I have ever received is…
Remain curious.

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