Hasaan Kirkland talks about getting weird in Charlotte

On Aug. 5, Charlottean and Johnson C. Smith University Associate Professor of Fine Art Hasaan Kirkland spoke on the topic of “Weird” at the monthly CreativeMornings/Charlotte meeting at Warehouse 242.

His 20-minute talk to the crowd of 275 guests touched on everything from painting murals and teaching art, to “Dune” and barbecue sauce.

Below, Kirkland answers five follow-up questions from the audience:

(1) You spoke powerfully about how, as creative beings, we can develop an ability to obliterate obstacles in our way. What has been your biggest obstacle thus far, and how did you remove it from blocking your creative flow?

My biggest obstacle(s) as an artist and educator has been destroying the sting of rejections and low financial compensations for my craft and ability. These obstacles are always present and are due to the nature and patronage of art and the paradigm of value on education in our society. I have learned to remove this from blocking my creative flow and impact in my education career by understanding, “what is mine, is mine” – meaning I will receive, accomplish or possess everything I am destined to have, provided I am understood about who gives it. When I am secure that God provides all that I need, obstacles no longer exist.

(2) Tell us more about your work to build the arts program at JCSU. Has it been hard building it in Charlotte? What has attracted students?

The work I share in building the arts program at JCSU has been nothing short of a blessing. It has been a method of scaffolding to reach milestones in the history of the institution. We have faced many challenges that range from funding, marketing and retention. Building our program in Charlotte is not hard but different. The program is small but it provides a concentration that rivals its peer institutions. What attracts many of our students, is that we have our own culture. Our collective efforts are to cultivate an academic and creative experience that empowers our students to not only be academically and creatively inclined but to be employable and ready to succeed.


(3) If you could harness the collective voice of the creative community in Charlotte to affect change, what would you do with it?

I would use it to scour away the unnecessary, hateful layers of injustice, greed and racism. This collective voice would be to reveal the sobering reality that we all breathe the same air, require the same measure of respect and appreciate the same gifts of love.

(4) With so many creative passions — visual arts, cooking, etc. — how do you stay focused?

I stay focused by destroying the idea of being the reason I fail. I do this through prayer, observation of life, humility to learn, a little risk-taking and a whole lot of grinding.  I believe God gives me every creative passion I have and more, it is my responsibility to multiply that which He gives.

(5) What are the biggest challenges you see facing the creative community in the Queen City today?

The challenges I see facing Charlotte would be the challenge of mentality and perspective. If you think traditional, you will be, but if you think different, smart, sexy, fun, creatively amazing, fluid, expansive, character-filled, then you will beThere is something to be said about aged character with contemporary coolness.

Have Your Own Creative Morning!

Set your alarm for 9 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 29 to claim your ticket to the upcoming Sept. 2 meeting of CreativeMornings/Charlotte at Tickets are free.

The speaker will be Suzie Ford, owner and president of NoDa Brewing Company, delivering a talk on the theme of “Magic.” And this week, NoDa Brewing will be tapping a new beer inspired by CreativeMornings/Charlotte – a coffee IPA called “Morning Muse.” Enjoy it at their taproom or, if you’re adventurous, on the morning of Sept. 2!

For more information on CreativeMornings/Charlotte or to sign up for the newsletter, visit

Photos: Wiley Stewart; Video: Charlotte Star Room.