Thursday, December 22, 2022

Dawn Hunter | portrait of the visual artist in her fifties

In James Joyce's novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the narrative follows the journey of Stephen Dedalus, a budding artist grappling with his place in the world and cultivating his artistic identity. This modernist masterpiece is renowned for its inventive language and for depicting its main character's psychological and ethical growth.

From this literary work, mature creatives can glean that the metamorphosis into an artist encompasses a voyage of self-exploration and self-fashioning.

Attaining contentment and ease within oneself at any life stage is vital to one's overall wellness and can contribute to a more gratifying, purposeful existence.

Life is full of highs, lows, and transitional periods; however, it is crucial to remember that age remains a mere numeral and that it is never too late to chase your aspirations and objectives. Numerous people find a renewed sense of direction and focus as they age and view aging as an opportunity for reinvention and to make positive life changes. Often people will choose to prioritize their personal development and joy. 

Remember that there's no "right way" to be a fabulous 50-something (or any age, for that matter). It's so important to appreciate our own unique qualities, talents, and passions. If you're feeling excited about this chapter in life like I am, that's amazing! Let's keep celebrating our individuality and living life to the max! 

This is a close-up portrait of visual artist Dawn Hunter.

My Story

Age has never dictated the course of my life. I've always pursued a creative path; each day spent in my studio feels timeless. This creative space fosters a connection between various moments and locations throughout my life, all within the artistic process. Additionally, I teach first-year college students who are full of energy, creativity, and innovation. These young individuals inspire and graciously invited me into their lives through our shared artistic pursuits.

A hurdle that older female artists might encounter is ageism, which is discrimination based on age. This can manifest in various ways, such as being overlooked for opportunities or being treated differently due to one's age.

Another obstacle older female artists may face is inadequate representation and support for their work. It is not unusual for them to feel as if their artwork doesn't receive the same level of attention or acknowledgment compared to their younger peers.

Yet, despite these obstacles, numerous older female artists remain committed to producing and showcasing their art. They may discover support and fellowship within artistic circles and could even find that their age and life experiences provide them with a distinct viewpoint and expression in their craft. (Above, a portrait of Dawn Hunter. Photo captured by Darcy Phelps.)

This is a photo of visual artist Dawn Hunter at the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at the High Museum in Atlanta, GA. Dawn is standing in a hot pink room with big black polka dots created by Kusama.

My Inspiration

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist who was born in 1929. She has achieved significant success and has gained a great deal of recognition as an older female artist. Her career has spanned over 70 years. During that time Kusama earned a reputation as one of the world's most significant and influential living contemporary artists. 

Kusama's artwork is characterized by its vivid colors, recurring patterns, and enveloping installations that frequently involve performance and interactive aspects. Her creative endeavors have spanned multiple mediums, such as painting, sculpture, installation art, and literature.

This is a photo of a Yayoi Kusama light installation. There are portals that viewers can look in through. There are mirrors that reflect the lights creating a sense of dimension and infinity.

Above, self-portrait of Dawn Hunter at the Yayoi Kusama exhibition in Atlanta, Georgia. Left, the Peep Show light installation by Yayoi Kusama, photo by Dawn Hunter.

Throughout her illustrious career, Kusama has displayed her artwork in galleries and museums across the globe, captivating a vast and loyal fanbase. In the past few years, her prominence and accomplishments have soared even higher, as her masterpieces have taken center stage in prestigious exhibitions and fetched jaw-dropping sums at auctions. Now in her 90s, Kusama remains a creative force, continuing to produce and showcase her art, enthralling and enchanting people worldwide.

My favorite living artist is Kusama, and I make it a point to travel and attend her shows whenever I can, like to the Bronx Botanical Gardens or High Museum of Art. When her exhibition was on view at the High Museum in Atlanta, GA, I actually bought a scalped ticket to attend. The show had sold out, and people were wrapped around the block in tents in hopes of receiving one of the daily tickets held. 

*Ticket scalping has become a more common practice during the past twenty years because of the internet. Most scalping incidents now take place through online sales transactions. Currently, there are no federal laws that prohibit the scalping or resale of tickets.

Photo of Yayoi Kusama's obliteration room. A room comprised entirely of white walls, white furniture and white objects. Guests to the show cover the objects with polka dot stickers on the was out. This flattens the space and create an illusion of disappearing objects.

Above, the obliteration room at the Yayoi Kusama Exhibition at the High Museum, photo by Dawn Hunter.


2022 has been an excellent year for me creatively, and I was productive - generating many new works of art throughout the year. I have been honored by the recognition and success of my illustrations, drawings, and paintings about the esteemed neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal and my daughter, Darcy. I have exhibited throughout the US this year, from Art Fields in Lake City, SC, Verum Ultimum, Portland, OR, and the Cabrillo Gallery, Los Angeles - to name a few 2022 exhibition highlights. 

I feel sincere gratitude for being the first artist to be elected to the Board of Directors of the prestigious Cajal Club and for the distinctions of having my artwork reproduced and written about in Scientific American® and the Consilience Journal.

I look forward to opportunities and the creative journey ahead of me in 2023, and as the sayings go, "age is just a number," and "being fifty is nifty."

Portrait of Dawn Hunter taken by her daughter Darcy. Dawn has long brown hair, is wearing a burgundy dress and is sitting at a table with many drawings she created of her daughter.

Portrait of Dawn Hunter taken by her daughter Darcy as they prepared the Darcy Inventory for the 2022, 10th Anniversary Artfields exhibition, Lake City, SC.