Artist Paul Dunlap has been making art for as long as he can recall. And now his art is literally available for public viewing in Gainesville.
Dunlap is a 2016 Free Range Artist.
In conjunction with Vision 2030 of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, The Quinlan Visual Arts Center is leading the Free Range Art Project. The purpose is to “promote art within the community through the creation of large-scale works of art installed in the public sphere throughout the city of Gainesville and Hall County,” according to a Quinlan news release.
“I am beyond honored to have been selected for this project,” Dunlap said. “I love public art and believe that art should be accessible to all.”
Dunlap’s photograph “Two Llamas” is part of the project. He said his mixed media works are usually the result of his academic/creative research based in Appalachian culture, or often Queer Appalachia.
“But like all photographers, I point my camera at whatever interests me and one day my friends’ llamas caught my attention and this image was born,” he said.
Although the photograph is literally two llamas, Dunlap has a message he wants people to see.
“I hope people look at this photograph and see it as something beautiful, but also see that our regional world is evolving and this includes animals of non-indigenous species and people of various ethnicities,” he said. “And this is a wonderful thing!”
Many eyes observing Dunlap’s work is nothing new to him. His photographs have been published in Rolling Stone magazine, The Advocate magazine, CNN, Ellen Degeneres’ show “After Ellen,” and American Way magazine, just to name a few.
“I have done a great deal of photography for Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls over the years, which has resulted in album covers, publicity images for press, posters and T-shirts,” he said. “I also do some commercial real estate photography sporadically.”
Dunlap said it’s always flattering to be published in magazines with high circulation, but when his art is on display in his hometown it feels different.
“It means the world to me,” he said. “It’s heartwarming to share my art within my community.”
Even with such a resume, it is hard to believe Dunlap didn’t pursue his education in art until he was 28 years old.
“I recall reaching the point of unhappiness with my job that I had a reality moment and saw that someone is making a living at art and if I am willing to work hard enough, why couldn’t it be me?” the now 49-year-old said.
Therefore, Dunlap enrolled at the then-North Georgia College (now University of North Georgia) and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in studio art with a concentration in photograph in December 2001.
“By graduation, I knew I wanted to teach at the university level,” he said. “So I applied to the (Masters of Fine Arts) program in photography at the University of Georgia. By summer 2004, I had earned my Master of Fine Arts in photography.”
While Dunlap works as an associate professor of visual arts at the University of North Georgia on a daily basis, he is proud to be part of the evolving Free Range Art project.
“I am proud of our region and it warms my heart to have something I created represent some aspect of that region,” Dunlap said.
He also believes in supporting the Quinlan whenever possible.
“The Quinlan’s staff and Board of Directors are doing wonderful things to bring art to Gainesville and its adjacent communities and I want to be right there with them as much as I possibly can,” he said.