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Art student showcases work at local gallery

Joshua Howell ignores critics, creates variety of inspired art
Ashlee Porter
Sophomore Joshua Howell looks over one of his paintings on campus at Virginia State University.

Joshua Branch Howell is a sophomore, majoring in Visual Arts at Virginia State University and his artwork can be seen on campus quite frequently.

Howell is always around bumpin’ 70s-90s music often while walking around giving out free fist bumps and painting in places like the Trojan Corner and Gateway dining hall. Howell also known as the “The artistic horseman” (@theartistichors3man) loves to showcase his works. Most recently Howell showcased some amazing pieces at the Senior Art Exhibition at The Walton Gallery on April 12th.

As a native to the Tri-Cities, Howell grew up right here in the Petersburg, Colonial Heights and Hopewell areas and drew a passion for art here. 

He says he started doing digital art in 2020 on his phone then slowly moved into other mediums like canvas and paper, tampering with elements like acrylic, charcoal, and colored pencil. His most recent work is mostly oil pastel-based, he says it’s his favorite and that’s what he used for the recent art showcased at the Art Exhibition.

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“In the past four years or so, starting the quarantine era, I would try my hand with digital art but recently I decided to put it to the side and go more into traditional work. I would experiment with many, many materials including acrylic, oil, colored pencil, pencil, charcoal,  pastel but my signature medium would be oil pastel, and pen and ink,” Howell said.

Howell’s preferred medium is pastel oil painting and his works are currently on display in Petersburg.

Howell draws his love for art and music through many things. He finds inspiration through music, African-American culture, self-expression and identity in the black community. 

Howell says he is artistically influenced by many painters and artists like Jean Mitchel Basquiat and shows that through his line work and the various colors he uses in his own art. He also draws inspiration from murals he sees around the city of Richmond,  Va.

“In the past couple of months or so,  I’ve been doing various visual art performances, where I would paint and draw live under the guidance of jazz instrumentals, most of them have been in Trojan Corner,” Howell said. 

Howell says he’s learned to “Be your own you, be your own boss and just don’t pay ‘attention to what people say.’” 

He believes you should accept criticism but don’t take insults. Howell had the first chance to showcase his works in February 2023 and hasn’t looked back since. 

He has then showcased many different art pieces at galleries all around Petersburg and the Richmond area. He’s showcased over 30 works of art at the hip-hop exhibition held in Faunt Leroy and this year alone he’s showcased and been to about five exhibitions with multiple works on display.

Howell hopes to continue his art journey and says it’s a blessing being a part of the art department at Virginia State. 

Howell’s works are on display at the Walton Gallery from April 12 to May 3. The gallery will also include works from other VSU students. The gallery is located at 17 N Sycamore St, Petersburg, Va, and all are welcomed during their business hours on Wednesday – Saturdays.

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