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Father figures both captivate and vex youth with their various levels of talent for wordplay and puns. Sometimes a Dad joke achieves the perfect walk over the double entendre line between innocence and innuendo. And without intention, the best ones overflow with a kitschy aesthetic.

So it is no surprise that a correlation exists between these creative abilities and the abundance of stories about tumultuous relationships among artists and their fathers.

Naturally, this artwork derives from personal experiences, but also from examining themes of identity, masculinity and familial bonds. Rather than providing a general view, these pieces give us a personal perspective that might be quite different than our own. Or quite similar.

  • Courtesy of Deanna Hensley

Deanna Hensley -- Painter Deanna Hensley's fishing trips with her dad are among her happiest memories. Growing up in a house replete of taxidermy fish trophies, the open-mouthed fish has become symbolic of her relationship with her father.

"Fish tend to swim in schools, but I don't feel like my dad is one of many. He is his own fish," says Hensley.

  • Courtesy of Richard Nickolson

Richard Nickolson -- "My dad retired from a lifetime of work for the federal government in Washington, D.C. and built a new house, right on the Patuxent River, near where it flows into the Chesapeake Bay. In his garage and toolshed, he also set up a studio/workshop where he would draw out plans and then construct these giant doll houses for his granddaughters"

"Child's Play is one of two pieces that I made several years ago in conjunction with Patrick King Contemporary Art and the American Art Clay Company, both here in Indianapolis. Patrick King was sponsoring an exhibition of his gallery artists who had recently participated in a workshop at AMACO.

I broke and cut into a couple of slip-cast ceramic forms, and slab built a couple of other 'house' shapes on the side. I then inserted the 'house' forms into the ceramic forms and sealed them back up. I used a bright cadmium yellow glaze that glowed from the inside. It was to be a surprise for the viewer when he or she would look inside. And it was."

  • Courtesy of Philip Campbell

Philip Campbell -- "The beginning of January 2013 I announced that I was going to carve 100 boats on fire. I was offered a show almost immediately by Garner Narrative in Louisville. It was to open in December. Three weeks in to the project, my father passed away."

"As I stood beside the empty shell he had occupied, the concept of the human soul was solidified for me. And so the 100 Burning Boats became about souls on their journey."

  • Courtesy of Jennifer Delgadillo

Jennifer Delgadillo -- "The older I get, the more I realize I'm a lot like my father. And so I spend a lot of time analyzing him to know what to look out for when I reach his age. Naturally, this assumption is based on my observations that we basically have the same shape of head, martyr complex and penchant for self-deprecating storytelling."

  • Courtesy of Lisa Land & Chris Land

Lisa Land -- "Fathers perform many roles, often at once," says the ceramicist and wife of painter Chris Land. "Staying close by to keep your son from eating sandy bird poop off the sidewalk isn't enough, as sometimes you also have to keep their pale, squishy flesh out of the burning sun at the same time. Ahhh, parenthood."

  • Courtesy of Daniel Del Real

Daniel Del Real --Borracho o Músico?El Altar de Rogelio Del Real (Drunkard or Musician? Rogelio Del Real's Altar) "My dad was a musician from Atolinga, Zacatecas. He played the accordion throughout the south of Zacatecas and in Tijuana, where I was born. He would come home from gigs drunk and having spent all his money. The veladoras (candles) explain the duality of his life: On one hand there's el músico, and on the other hand there's el borracho."

"When he passed away I inherited three items from him: a gold signet ring with his initial "R" for Rogelio; his Bible and his accordion. El Músico is an alter ego of myself trying to be like him, to the discontent of my mom. It's about trying to connect with the other half of me I know nothing about."

  • Courtesy of Jose Di Gregorio

Jose Di Gregorio -- "Everything I do is for these two. Everything. With that in mind, I wanted to come clean and credit them for making all my art. They're the modern-day Artemisia Gentileschi," says Di Gregorio.

  • Courtesy of Rory Golden

Rory Golden -- "I did this series of tar drawings (tar, house paint, oil paint and collage on roofing paper) as a way of processing the experience of finding [my father's] body the morning after he died. I did the series of drawings to commemorate his passing and process the trauma. Today I celebrate my life given by my parents."

  • Courtesy of Constance Scopelitis

Constance Scopelitis -- "My Father was 25, I was 5. My father wanted to be a part of the Indy racing scene so badly, he put me, his first child, a girl, in the driver's seat of a quarter midget race car for eight years of my life."

Life's a Gamble "Inspired by my cigarette-smoking, cowboy-boot wearing, sailor-swearing, motorcycle-riding, IU Business School Graduate and teetotaler!"

  • Courtesy of Erin K Drew

Erin K. Drew -- "My father is depicted at Victory Park, where he has worked as a groundskeeper for the Indianapolis Indians for several years [Racist iconography not his fault]. He is ruminating on all the pairs of sunglasses he lost to a vicious tide on a vacation to Virginia Beach when I was a child. He often mused that dolphins were out there wearing them."

"Although I am the one in the family who holds the BFA in fine arts from Herron, my father is frequently found hard at work on acrylic paintings and drawings of athletes, far outproducing myself. His painting is submitted here for viewers to decide who is the real artist."


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