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Free Time with Victor Sweatt

Getting to know local artists, their work and how they spend their time
Credit: WHAS11
Sweatt photographed in his Portland studio

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Victor Sweatt is a visual artist based in Louisville, working primarily out of his studio in the Portland neighborhood. Sweatt’s work can be seen throughout Louisville on several doors for the Louisville Downtown Partnership’s Alley Gallery program, as well as murals in the Chickasaw neighborhood, Russell neighborhood, the Southwick Community Center, the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory and more. Between creating his own art and teaching others, Sweatt spoke to us about how he approaches his time. Here’s what he had to say:

KNOW THY SELF What I see is opportunity. I see opportunity everywhere I look. The opportunity to create myself—but it wasn’t always like that. Perspective is everything. I grew up in adverse conditions, developing unhealthy love/hate relationships early in life. A beautiful mess, I was the perfect example of “the lessons we try to teach other people are the lessons we need to learn the most.” Growing up, I wanted to be an art teacher. I wanted to help nourish the passion students have for art.

Credit: WHAS11
Sweatt's mural at 16th and Muhammad Ali in the Russell neighborhood

Not too long ago, things weren’t working for me. Nothing worked, socially or financially. I gave it my all, every day, until I was spent emotionally, mentally and physically. I couldn’t understand why things were getting worse. The only thing I had left was truth. Not concepts about faith or beliefs, but my reality. Filling out applications, temporary services, traveling state to state, failed relationships, etc. I took a long hard look at the decisions I’d made that placed me in that position. Now, number one comes before number two is my personal philosophy and how I approach life. It sounds simple enough. Love is an action word. You have to love your Self before you can love anyone else. That means practicing understanding and patience with yourself first. I’ve found discipline and accountability to be indispensable. Know thy self.

Credit: WHAS11
Sweatt's work "Sacred Waters" graces a door on West Chestnut near Third Street as part of Louisville Downtown Partnership's Alley Gallery project

I’m always inspired. It’s true tomorrow isn’t promised so I approach life with a sense of purpose. I give myself a certain amount of time to ponder a problem then I move into the solution. Knowing that most situations are layered and you can’t fix them by starting in the middle, you have to go to the beginning. I don’t know why every soul came to this physical plane, so I practice acceptance and work on showing love.

IN THE NOW When the door of opportunity opened, saying I was ready would be an understatement. I don’t take days off. Colleagues have grown accustomed to me saying “My to-do list is twenty years behind.” I go to bed between 7-9 p.m., enjoying the quiet when waking at 4 a.m., which sets the tone for the practice of morning meditation, which helps me move into the day with an “in the now” presence. Understanding the only constant is change helps me remain grounded and consistent.

Credit: Victor Sweatt
Sweatt's mural at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory

An avid basketball fan, I go to the parks and community centers to watch hoops after leaving the studio. Believing variety is the spice of life, I visit Cherokee, Portland, Wyandotte, Iroquois Park, etc. Consistently in a creative frame of mind, I take paper and pen or notebooks to write art notes or draw concept sketches. At home, I work on proposals, answer emails, research for projects and look for art opportunities.

SHARING THE PASSION My art reflects my thoughts, observations and feelings with the majority of it being people and our interaction with one another. Portraitures range from praise to social justice. Recently, I’ve started delving into painting land and cityscapes. In painting landscapes, my process starts out with ambience then interesting shapes. Two of my favorite artists are realist painters Andrew Wyeth and Dean Mitchell.

Credit: Victor Sweatt
Sweatt's mural at the Southwick Community Center

For several years I taught Children’s Fine Art Classes with the Louisville Visual Art association. Other places included the Metro Correctional Facility, LaGrange Treatment Center, YMCA Safe Places Services, etc. I turned my classes into social clubs of art and life lessons, encouraging honesty, positive discussion and critique and working as a team.

Currently, I’m working on a program called WISE (What I See Enterprise). It’s about mastering the arts. I’m teaching the youth to monetize their thoughts or intellectual property with spoken word, visual arts, theater, photography, video, music and culinary art. Self-expression is vital as we were created to create.

Credit: WHAS11
Sweatt at work in his Portland studio

Sweatt is currently seeking funding for a children’s book titled “Speak Up,” which hopes to empower kids and prevent sexual abuse. Those interested in learning more about Sweatt and his work can visit his Facebook page, Victor Sweatt Art.