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Life & Work with David Onri Anderson

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Onri Anderson.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I was born in Nashville, TN in Centennial Hospital. My mother is from Paris, France, and her father is from Algeria.

My great grandfather on my mom’s side was Rabbi Moshe Atlan, who was later buried outside of Jerusalem. On my mother’s side are Jewish refugees from Algeria who moved into France.

My mother came to America to pursue art in Florida, and there met my father. My father was born in Denver, Colorado, but lived all over America and in Curaçao and El Salvador. I am the middle child of three boys and a younger sister adopted from South Korea.

Our family is eclectic, artistic, loud, and spiritual, and we are a bunch of misfits that like to enjoy food, nature, art, and books. I have been making art since I was 3, and I still do today as my “living”.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Like anyone else, the road has not always been smooth.

Rarely is it smooth when you are an artist? One significant story I will share: When I was 16 years old, I and my two brothers and my dad were out in the Atlantic Ocean swimming and having fun. The weather had been stormy the previous day so the flag was red, indicating a warning against strong currents and rough waves.

We thought we would all play with our dad in the waves and be careful and have fun. After a while of splashing, we realized the current took us pretty far out and we couldn’t touch the ground with our feet, so we decided to swim back. The current was too strong, so we couldn’t fight against it, sucking us outward. So we tried to swim sideways as they say.

Nothing worked. I wondered if anyone would notice us. I couldn’t see the shore, so it was hard to know what direction to even swim towards. Then I heard my dad screaming for help and knew we were in serious trouble, I had never heard him like that before. I was trying so hard to stay afloat and keep swimming, but I was getting so tired and felt hopeless. I thought, this is it, I am going to die now.

I can’t believe how easily this is happening! I blacked out and sank into the harsh waters. The next thing I know, a big wave picked us up and smashed us into the sand, then I could stand up. And I walked back to shore, exhausted.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am an artist and curator. I have been exhibiting my artwork for over ten years, showing it internationally.

I am mostly known for my paintings, which are made using precise graphic lines, flat thin paint, organic dyes and textures, and subjects involving nature, cosmogony, and spirituality.

I have been in several curatorial collectives since 2014 and currently run an art space called Electric Shed that has been operating in Nashville since 2018. I also make music with my partner Eve Maret, and we recently put out an album called Eve and David 1.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
Luck has been a yin-yang in my life.

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