Kyros Barton is an interdisciplinary artist in the process of completing his BFA in Printmaking at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Following a lifelong interest in the arts, mythology, and learning, his work focuses on the development of a self and the different forms of acceptance associated with his internal growth. Elements of technology, transgender identity, and the black experience pepper the work he produces. His work is constantly evolving based on whatever technique or interest he is currently exploring.
The act of living is a form of art. Similarly, like art, to live is to experience differences in experience, in growth, and in different versions of the self. At times, these varying influences may feel disjointed in their appearances, but I believe they all add up to make the whole person. The issue that I have had with attaining this understanding is best summarized by a period of stagnancy in which I questioned why I make the pieces I do, and where they live within my larger story. I came to the realization that I am not merely a singular ‘-self’, but the plural ‘-selves’.
We are all living in a state of constant becoming. The stagnancy I loathed in the past was less about feeling lost, and more about being lost. Rather than view my practice as that of a creative prepared to focus all efforts on monetary or social gains, I have restructured to view it as an extension of my already transitional self. I am a literal archetype for change, being a man of transgender experience. I am also the archetype for struggle, as a Black man in a world that attempts to slow development at every turn. In acknowledging these archetypal occurrences and images within my work, I have been able to better understand not only myth, but myself.
Thus, my work lives as an extension of my body. These paintings, illustrations, and prints that I make are all discussing the heroism of the developing self. Using a life-long interest in mythology as a base, I pull imagery from graphic novels, and depict myself through a series of self-portraits. They often feature an element of contemporary society within them, such as a cell phone, to ground them in modernity. I find these elements to be hilariously absurd in their context; I am often depicted wearing clothing that fits within an ancient narrative and yet hold modern technology. These pieces, coupled with process color use (inspired by both the four-color printing process used in comics, and the Vaporwave art movement), live in both past and present, in the same way that I have.
The hero-path that we all follow carries different challenges and makes us into different people. The ‘-self’ is ‘-selves’ and vice versa. I depict myself as a god or divine hero to declare a reverence for my revolutionary body. My existence is one politicized, debated on the news with every man shot and every person kicked out for living as themselves, and in my tired stagnancy, I decided no more. I hope to show my audience that my existence cannot be debated, and that my existence is just as righteous and divine as theirs. I hope that viewers see the rawness of my work and develop the same reverence for themselves.