When Rocky and Mandy Horton were looking for a home 5 years ago, high on the list of desired features was a separate building to use as a studio. Both teach at Lipscomb; both are artists. The barn-like shed in the back yard in their east Nashville home serves that purpose well. The former owner had used it for something akin to taxidermy, but not quite...there were parts of stuffed animals lying around - a hoof here, a set of horns there - which Rocky appropriated into the decor as he converted the space to their studio. He added insulation and sheetrock to mitigate the wild temperature swings he feels in high summer and deep winter. No HVAC here. One wall had to be designated as hanging space for yard tools, but the rest is devoted to creating. As Rocky’s artistic expressions cover a variety of categories - from both representational and abstract painting to video production to sculpture - the space has to be flexible and multipurpose. He’s at the desk on the computer working on video, at the table top in the center building a miniature mock-up of a gallery hosting an upcoming show to scale how his large (some 10-15 feet in length) pieces will best fit, or at the wall painting on a new canvas. His larger-than-life “to do” list is kept current with chalk on two blackboards that cover the back of the doors into the studio. Rocky loves to be in this confined space. Sometimes he wanders across the back yard and enters the shed with no intention of working on the art. Maybe just scanning emails and facebook or sweeping the floor, because he believes the ideas that swirl around those walls will land where they should and continue to push him toward some good end. Feelings as disparate as inspiration, frustration, exultation, even shame (if he’s neglected working for too long) wash over him. It’s a very special and unique mental space.
From the artist: “I want to be challenged in the studio. I want to know what else is possible.”