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Austin Harris

Central Washington University

Young Minds are Moldable, Like Clay
oil and spray paint on canvas


Tell us about the work that you have submitted.

This piece is an investigation of the male psyche and the influence that society has on an individual’s false selfhood; selfhood being one’s unique personality and psyche being the man’s thoughts and aspirations. Growing up in a rural area, I saw a flawed way of upbringing, both in myself and in my peers. I was constantly fighting and trying to prove myself to be a powerful young alpha male. I never showed emotion or insecurities and I certainly never wore pink. With my work, I investigate what it is that society promotes with these thoughts and actions.

How do you describe your work and practice?

My work as a whole relates directly to my upbringing and the ways that my surroundings have influenced my idea of toxic masculinity and brutality.

What motivated you to apply to the XL Catlin Art Prize?

Growing up poor and being a first-generation college student, I have always wanted to amount to something. Applying to the XL Catlin Art exhibition is not only an opportunity to promote my voice as an artist but also a pathway to future success.

What inspires your work?

Everything about my childhood inspires my work. I didn’t grow up in perfect living conditions and was constantly taught to retaliate against disrespect. This influenced my relationship with masculinity and brutality.