Local artsit earns a spot at Comix! art exhibit

By Gus Bode

Raven Dancing shows his artwork in his home Wednesday in Carbondale. Dancing has prepared his artwork for an exhibit at the West Central Illinois Art Center in Macomb. Dancing’s art is part of a larger exhibit called Comix Show! and runs August 5 to Sept. 10. Dancing says he hopes his art can help heal the earth. – Steve Matzker | Daily Egyptian

Artist Raven Dancing and his wife, Jubilee Dancing, have lived in Carbondale for about a year and  their art at Carbondale’s Friday Night Fairs. In anticipation of an Aug. 5 art exhibit at Macomb’s West Central Illinois Art Center, the Daily Egyptian sat down with the two for an interview.

DE: Have you always been an artist?


Raven: I haven’t always made a living being an artist, and up until now it’s been a stretch to say we could call it that. But we have been doing it, making a living off of it, for three years now.

DE: What were you before that?

Raven: Fine-dining waiter.

DE: Where are you from?

Raven: We’re originally from Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Jubilee: But we’ve traveled from coast to coast then back to the middle again.

Raven: We’ve sold art at shops; we’ve sold art at flea markets; we’ve sold art at music festivals.


Jubilee: And then we do commercial stuff in towns and sometimes stay there.

DE: What are your mediums?

Raven: No. 2 pencil and really good paper. To get color we have to enlarge a print and then hand-color it as a real faded out print and then we hand-color it in a re drawing process. It’s color pencil, basically re drawing the whole thing.

DE: How do you get ideas of what to draw?

Raven: It’s a story or a chapter of a story that I want to try to convey in this limited space, in this limited medium, through symbolic imagery, so I usually have a basic concept of what I want to do, and then I just start drawing and it grows from there. It’s really like I can’t credit for it. I’m just kind of channeling it. It’s coming through me, and I have the talent and the ability to put it on the paper, It’s beautiful.

DE: Where does your inspiration come from?

Raven: It’s all about that. It’s about Mother Earth, it’s all about healing our reality. Once I discovered what my muse was — I had the technique going but once I figured out that’s what I’m really trying to convey — then it really sprung into something really unique.

DE: How long have you been drawing?

Raven: All my life, as far back as I can remember. I’ve never had a lesson. In fact I was discouraged, at one point, from taking any lessons because the professor saw what I was doing and said that going to school would ruin me. He said they would beat this out of me.

DE: How did you get started drawing?

Raven: One thing that I always had access to was a No. 2 pencil and some paper.

DE: Were there times when you were discouraged?

Raven: No. This has been my focus. This has been my life and this is what it’s all about for me, so I came up with this idea and this technique to make a lot of money and get a message out at the same time, and then I can take that money and do great things with it.

DE: What’s the hardest part of being an artist?

Raven: I haven’t thought about it being hard except for having gone this far … I thought I’d be a little farther by now. But now it’s all happening, and it’s all right here . And I always knew it would, so I guess the hardest part has been the waiting.

Jubilee: For me, the hardest part of it is the art because a lot of people don’t want to hear the message.

Raven: It’s true. A lot of people will really be digging it and then we tell them what’s it about and then they lose interest — but not everybody. For a lot of people, it piques their interest.

DE: What do you want your art to do?

Raven: It’s all about creativity. Without creativity, we’re pretty much stuck. This is going to  take some serious creativity to get us out of what being non-creative has got us into — being stuck in the same space for so long, and the same focus being on money, greed… I want my art to heal people. I want to make a lot of money so that I can have money, not only so I can live nice and take care of my family, but I also want to (help) create a situation where people have good, purposeful work that they get a good use for that they can feel good about. That ripples out into the community.

DE: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

Raven: Don’t get discouraged. Don’t take what anyone says. If you love your art, people will love your art… Love your mother. This planet can support infinite life if it’s properly maintained. It’s designed that way, I believe, and it’s kind of messed up now but that doesn’t mean it can’t do that again. My words of wisdom are be a momma’s boy or girl and take care of Mother Earth because this is all we got. This is it. This is the center of our universe.