Of skulls and dark visions

Stepping inside Erica Blackstock’s head

By Gary Spencer

A sculpture created by Dayton dark artist Erica Blackstock.

A sculpture created by Dayton dark artist Erica Blackstock.

The Halloween season is nearing its apex and visions of blood, monsters, skeletons and all things spooky are nearly everywhere you go. But to Daytonian visual artist Erica Blackstock, the appeal of such imagery and general darkness isn’t merely a once-a-year affair. For years Blackstock has been imagining all things eerie, macabre and ghastly, and her conjurations are manifested in a variety of visual forms. Despite her decidedly creepy, over-the-top style, there’s more to this artist than mere gore and shock value. At heart Blackstock just wants to express her imagination in any way possible just like any other artistic, passionate and creative human being. I wanted to find out what makes Erica Blackstone tick creatively, and she was more than happy to share her inspirations and aspirations with me…

Tell me about your background in art.
Creation has always been a part of me. I give credit to my high school art teacher who taught me it’s OK to express yourself however you need to. [Erica Blackstock]

What mediums do you work with?
I bounce from medium to medium depending on the image that is trying to escape my head. Mannequins are probably my favorite thing to create with. I make dolls, masks, ink drawings, acrylic paintings, oil paintings, Styrofoam heads — I will use whatever resource I am provided with. A lot of the time I find a random piece of junk (razors, skeleton keys, dice, etc.) and create around that. (EB)

The majority of your art has a scary, nightmarish feel to it. Care to explain?
I have been creating dark art for a while. Though not all of it is dark, most of it can be considered that way. The shock value of dark creation is very gratifying to me. To be showing my work and to watch people walk through the gallery and stop take a double glance and mostly always make a comment, whether good or bad, is an unexplainable feeling. I create and show for reaction, isn’t that what art’s about? [EB]

Are the subjects you depict based on real life things or people, or is it all pure fantasy?
There have been a lot of amazing people in my life that have influenced the characters in my creations. I also enjoy people watching and sometimes I see something that triggers emotion, good or bad, and I feel the need to create. [EB]

Let’s suppose you’re getting ready to work on a piece. What’s your creation process like?
I usually start with closing my eyes and capturing the complete image in my head. From there I sketch out the image and make notes on any piece of paper I can find. By this point I figure out what medium will be best for the idea and go start collecting supplies. [EB]

Who is your target audience in terms of sales and/or appeal?
I don’t create to sell, I create to create and feel privileged if someone wants to have a piece of mine in their home. I‘m lucky enough to be part of a large dark art scene here in Dayton and I get to show my work next to some amazing dark artists who inspire me to continue to create and show my work. [EB]

Do you participate in galleries or exhibitions?
I started showing my work two years ago when I went to the Dayton Circus Collective’s Sideshow and found that I am surrounded with like-minded people and I have a place to show my work. I also create for benefit shows to help raise money for special causes, including the Dr. Creep benefit and the benefit for Suzanne Hopper’s family are a few I have participated in within the past year. I participate in every exhibition I’m asked to do. I love producing for themed events — it gets my creative juices flowing! I feel privileged each time I’m asked to do anything. [EB]

What’s the feedback been like both from the local art community and the general public?
It’s either love, disgust or both. Being a dark artist I do have a lot of folks that aren’t interested in what I do — whether they’re scared or just don’t like it — I still get a reaction and that’s why I do what I do. [EB]

So what does the future hold for Erica Blackstock and her art?
As long as I’m alive I will be creating. I hope to see things evolve to the point of having more people step out of their box and come support local Dayton artists with all the events constantly going on in the area. Without the local art scene, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. [EB]

Do you have a website where people can check out your work?
I have a Facebook page under my name, and I also have a Facebook page called “Step Inside My Head.” [EB]

Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Find an outlet whether you think you’re good or not and create. It’s not about what others think of you and your creations — it’s about utilizing your imagination. [EB]

Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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