Artist Workshop In Historic Atlanta, Idaho Is All About Self Expression

Sep 12, 2014

In a 'selfie' dominated world, a group of people are headed to the historic town of Atlanta, Idaho this weekend to immerse themselves in the art of self-portraiture. Painter Kris Hargis is leading a workshop at the Atlanta School, a new arts organization that accepts artists of all ages and levels.

But Hargis doesn't create your typical self-portraits. The Boise State grad student stretches the idea of self-portraiture beyond the realist bounds. He’s not afraid to experiment with expression, media and – even costuming. Hargis says wearing different clothes lets him see into a different world, and get a new perspective on himself. He has a collection of scarves, hats and wigs he'll use while he draws his self-portraits.

“Honestly, it would just be boring if I just sat and looked at myself as I am all the time," he says.

One of the artist's pieces on display at the Froelick Gallery in Portland, Ore.

Credit Kris Hargis / Froelick Gallery

Hargis has several self-portraits hanging in progress in his Boise studio. In each, you can tell they’re figures of men with roughly the same facial features. But the artist chose different colors of paint for his skin, and different styles of clothes and hats cast traveling shadows on his face. The brush strokes and textures vary too, along with his expression and tone.

Hargis says he welcomes people to view his self-portraits through their eyes.

“It invites the viewer in and they’re able to make their own interpretation," he says. "Maybe they see themselves, maybe they see a relative or a loved one that has been lost just in the expression or the color.”

One piece on his studio wall stands out: a man with piercing blue eyes and a cowboy hat leans his head to the side. Hargis says this self-portrait was inspired by a hat he got this summer during his first visit to the Atlanta School. Although he doesn't plan on taking the cowboy hat with him this weekend, he and his students will experiment with early 20th century costumes that will help stretch their imaginations as they paint in the historic town. 

This is the fifth workshop at the Atlanta School in its first year. Other sessions have included lessons in architecture and creative writing.

Hargis in his studio on the Boise State campus, where he's earning his master's degree.

Credit Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

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