Troy Scat Talks About His Career Journey In Art, Supportive Art Scene In Chicago, Plus More

Article by Tara Fay
Photos by Sean Beauford

Chicago’s art scene is magical, vast and diverse. From the phenomenal Museum of Contemporary Art, which currently hosts one of the largest retrospectives of work from Takashi Murakami ever seen, to the world renowned “giant bean” at Millennium Park, (‘Cloud Gate’, by Anish Kapoor). There are understated and poignant installations; Amanda Williams ‘Color(ed) Theory,’ and the socially conscious community street murals throughout the South Side, many of which are remnants of the contemporary mural movement of the 1970’s and 80’s, and have been restored in recent years.

There is also a burgeoning independent art scene in which artists like Troy Scat are thriving. Working as both an art instructor, and studio assistant to Hebru Brantley, Troy recently exhibited his work in a solo show, PEER, and is continuing to establish himself in the Chi as a multi-dimensional artist. Here, Troy discusses his journey has an artist, artist and race, and more.

Describe your artistic journey. When did you become an artist? Did you anticipate how far it would take you?

I’ve always been an artist, but I think the real journey has just begun. I did anticipate it. With the help of the people closest to me, most of the things I’ve accomplished up to this point in my life has been planned. I work hard and I would like to think it shows through my art. My goal is to simply keep creating, exploring, and learning.

Describe Chicago. What do you like/love about it?

Chicago is a very poetic place- a lot of heart, for sure; beautiful but in many ways very ugly. I like how diverse Chicago is and how the city has produced some of the most legendary people in the world up to date.

What is the black art scene like in Chicago? Is there adequate support for the arts?

Chicago has too much diversity to call it a black art scene. However, I do think that the support from people of color within the art community is definitely more than adequate, and there are a lot of talented artist here who are people of color.

A post shared by Troy Scat (@troyscat) on

A lot of your work is centered on, and inspired by women of color. Is that something you wish to continue with your art? How and why do they inspire you?

Women of color is just part of a variety of subjects I want to address. I’m constantly inspired by their beauty and soul a women. I’ve known women of color to have the most soul. Some of the strongest and closest people involved in my life are women of color. As an artist and man of color, I believe I have the privilege to express my appreciation for their beauty and capture that strength as well.

What else inspires you? How do you get into a creative space? Is there a process or are you always able to channel it?

Life in general keeps me inspired. The up and downs of everyday living helps me to get in a creative space and as an artist I’m always able to channel that creativeness some how in some way.


[Troy Scat in Pittsburgh at the Hebru Brantley mural he assisted on]

What is your goal as an artist? Do you consider yourself an activist as well?

I don’t consider myself to be an activist, just an artist. But then again, I do agree with George Orwell that all art is propaganda.

What are your thoughts on being coined a ‘black artist’? Is it necessary to distinguish artists in terms of race?

I don’t really think about being coined a black artist. In some cases, like when speaking about art history and art politics, it may be necessary to distinguish artists in terms of race. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it actually matters or I don’t think it should matter because art is universal. So far, my art has gotten support and appreciation from a variety of ethnicities and I support artists of different backgrounds also.

What shows/events/projects do you have coming up?

So far, I have a group show coming up hosted by Common Ground and After School Matters. Other than that, I’m tackling a few freelance and commission projects while I try and plot of my next series of works.

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Written by Thomas Agnew