Artist of the Month: January 2017 – Josh Thacher

Art, artist of the month, Uncategorized

Interview by Jess Petrylak

josh-thacherChinese Restaurant, Josh Thacher

SUCKER: Who is Joshua Thacher?

JOSH THACHER: I don’t really know how to answer this question. I guess I am some sort of lost, spirit-like being. Just wandering around trying to pass the time…

SUCKER: Where do you get your inspiration from? How do you make decisions on what is important enough to paint/depict?

JOSH THACHER: I’ve been around for over a thousand years, existing on somewhat of a middle ground between a multitude of different dimensions and universes. I’ve been to many strange and surreal places, met a lot of awesome people, and seen a lot of crazy things. I also have voices in my head. So, all of that is where I get my inspiration. Sometimes there are things that I just want to share, or things that I want to take from other worlds and bring them into this one. Those are the things that I try to depict in my artwork.


SUCKER: Considered a sort of artistic renaissance man of our time, you draw, paint, make sculptures, do digital drawings, have a few musical projects and piece together stuffed animals. How does your imagery translate through all these different mediums? Does one medium fit better than others?

JOSH THACHER: It all depends on how I see it first. If it is just an image, I’ll draw it. If it is something more three dimensional, I’ll make a sculpture or stuffed animal. If it comes to me in the form of sound, I’ll attempt (poorly) to recreate it somehow. Sometimes it’s nothing but words, and that’s when I write. Most of the time it is just images and words so I mainly draw and write, but it all just depends on a feeling. Sometime’s I’ll want to create something and I’ll think, “That needs to be painted, I can’t just draw it, It needs to exist in the form of a painting.” The same goes with sculptures, and so on.


SUCKER: You work with a lot of imagery with cats, can you expand on that?

JOSH THACHER: I love cats.

SUCKER: In your opinion, does college help or hinder the artist? If it’s of no help, what are some suggestions to young artists that could aid them in showing/selling their work?

JOSH THACHER: College is great for art. You learn new things and expand your artistic horizons. I never would have touched oil paints if it weren’t for college, and I turned out to be really good with them and like them a lot. I had a creative writing class with my favorite professor, Dr. Chirico, where he had us write 7 pieces a week (which is also something I never would have tried to do on my own time) and I produced some of my favorite poems in that class. The professors and classmates are nothing but helpful and encouraging. You’re surrounded by good ideas and advice, and it’s just a great environment to be in. I think one of the best ways to make it in the art world these days is to go to college. People are much more likely to recognize an artist, if they have a degree.

SUCKER: What was your first art making experience?


Dogboy, Josh Thacher

JOSH THACHER: I remember drawing a picture of a dog going down a slide. I had this weird way of drawing where I pressed really hard with my pencil and everything looked hairy for some reason. I know I was drawing before that, but this is my first memory of drawing. I think the dog was wearing sunglasses.

SUCKER: Do you believe anyone can be an artist? Or that the artist has a special gift?

JOSH THACHER: Yes, anyone can be artist. It doesn’t matter what you produce, how it looks or sounds. It doesn’t matter if you can’t perfectly recreate on paper what you saw in your mind. Whatever comes out is art, and it is unique to you as an individual. Everybody should make art and contribute their own individual style to the rest of the art in the world.

jt4 Tower, Josh Thacher

SUCKER: Have you ever thought about animating your work?

JOSH THACHER: Yes, I would love to make cartoons, but I don’t have the resources. I always have characters and stories in my head that a drawing or even a comic would not be enough for it. I made some cool things in an animation class but it doesn’t compare to what I would like to do if I had the resources. One of my dreams is to work for Adult Swim.

SUCKER: Often times words or poetry is incorporated within drawings you have done. How do you make these careful choices when pairing a drawing with words? How does that help what you want to get across to the viewer?

JOSH THACHER: Either words will come to me while I’m drawing, or an image will come to me while I’m writing. It’s not planned in any way. Making art, for me, is like vomiting from my mind. Most of the time, my mind is full of strange, broken stories.

SUCKER: What would you do if you weren’t making artwork?

JOSH THACHER: It’s hard to imagine that. I don’t know. I think my whole life would be different if I never made art, but if I just suddenly stopped today? I’d probably spend the rest of my life doing hard physical labor, and sit by a fire every night. I’d be somewhat of a cowboy, and I think I’d get angry easily.

SUCKER: Have you ever had an art show in a gallery? Or performed your music live?

JOSH THACHER: No I’ve never had my art in a gallery. That’d be cool though. I have played music live. My brother and I used to do open mic’s, but I wouldn’t call that my music; that’s really our music.


Apricot, Josh Thacher

SUCKER: Would you say that your work is autobiographical? Why or why not?

JOSH THACHER: No because none of it is about me. It’s all just stories about other people and places that do not exist in this universe.

SUCKER: Because you live in rural Upstate NY, do you have any comments or advice for people who believe/are worried that the only way to establish yourself as an artist is to leave home for a big city?

JOSH THACHER: It doesn’t matter where you are. Just make good art, and put it out there for people to see. What is anyone in the city going to do differently?

SUCKER: Why is it important to share your artwork online as a contemporary artist?

JOSH THACHER: I don’t think anyone but my close friends and family would know about my artwork if I didn’t have it online. So that’s saying something. I’m not well known at all. My facebook page only has 148 likes, but only about 40 of those people know me in real life, the rest are strangers from all over the place who discovered me through the internet. I also sell my artwork online. I probably wouldn’t be making any money from my art if it weren’t for the internet.

SUCKER: What are your future plans for your artwork and self?

JOSH THACHER: I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing. I have no plans for way into the future. I want to paint more.

SUCKER: Where can we follow you, and purchase your work?


My facebook page and my Etsy shop

My Tumblr where I post my poetry, among other things

And this is where you can find music

hope this time

Art, poetry, talk, Uncategorized, Words

Poem by Alyssa Faye Campbell

Art by Jessie Petrylak



in the face of adversity the load becomes

heavy – as we strive towards so much

more. we arrived with words as keys,

discovering our strength from their

energy – “Black Lives Matter.”

forsaken chants – no remedy,

another hashtag. awaiting

brighter days; and there

will be.

even in

the dark

we grow – in



we glow.

so much pain –

still, there’s always hope.

where is heaven for a


angel –








Illusioned Solitude

Art, poetry, Uncategorized

Poem by Alyssa Campbell featuring artwork by Jess Petrylak








chalk boards
















The sky’s railroads hold clouds traveling in packs while gods hide drinking wine

Us puppets on strings dangling from their fingertips– Death, dead

our heroes, our legends, in silence they Live on. Words on a page- through rhythm

dancing on, in silence




Questions forever forming tears of longing hearts, railroads of chirping birds singing gay songs.

They’d change their tone if they knew what we have done if they knew

if they knew



The air stung my cheeks, voices nails on a chalkboard theheartiswrongtheheartiswrong gods drinking wine,

Us puppets on strings dangling from their fingertips–



Death, dead- our heroes, our legends- in silence they Live on, words on a page through rhythm dancing on. Words On a page– through rhythm they dance on




Clocks pointing broken fingers, dead ends- Caged thoughts spillingfrom the ceilingburnt skin- black sun’s.nuns holding rifles, Dead ends- caged thoughts spillingfrom the ceiling

Hell’s portalHeaven’s illusionEarth’s Asylum



Wondering soulsWondering souls, voices bold holding signs screaming “Anti-voices” aknowingunknown gods

drinking wine

Us puppets on strings dangling from their fingertips–

Slamming Sexual Violence

Art, poetry, talk, Uncategorized

University of Oregon’s Student Poetry Slam Addresses Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Words by Alyssa Campbell

Illustration by Kayla Guttierez

slamming sexual violence

Illustration by Kayla Gutierrez


Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words are also weapons.

When saying “no” is not enough, how do you cope with the trauma of being violated?

On April 5, the Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Team at the University of Oregon held round three of their Anti-Sexual Violence Poetry Slam. The first round took place fall 2014, followed by the second round fall 2015.

It started as a release party, a way to get people in the same space to pick up the newest issue of “The Siren Magazine,” a feminist magazine on the UO campus.

Students and guests showed sincere respect and expressions of deep compassion.

It was a safe zone.

“If I lose my voice I lose everything,” said poet and member of UO’s Organization Against Sexual Assault Sofia Mackey. “You cannot protect yourself from isolation.”

This year the slam was geared towards SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month).

“There’s a lot of talking at people and informing them. Getting the word out and not a lot of survivors getting to stand up and say ‘This is my experience and I’m gonna talk about it the way I want to talk about it,’ ” said Sophie Albanis. “This is valuable in that sense, it lets people define themselves and their experiences.”

Albanis is the organizer of the slam event, a member of Associated Students of UO and an advocate for the UO student government.

“This is definitely the biggest turnout we’ve had for this event,” said Albanis. “This is the most overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve gotten. I really feel motivated to do more poetry slams.”

These poetry slams have helped her become comfortable identifying as a survivor.

Albanis` experience is one that she has no memory of. Someone had to tell her about what happened the next day and although she doesn’t remember, she knows it happened.

“A lot of people feel because I didn’t remember it or because I didn’t feel the pain after it happened, I’m not a real survivor,” said Albanis. “This event is what enabled me to say ‘Fuck you, I am a survivor.’ ”

Through poetry, readers shared experiences of rape trauma, repressed anger, new love and generational trauma.

“I was suffering a lot, for me what really helped me figure some things out was writing,” said poet Vienna Soulé. “I didn’t have to keep that inside of me anymore. I could write it out on paper and that’s where it stayed.”

Vice President for the UO student government Claire Johnson works as a member of the Organization Against Sexual Assault.

“I strongly believe too often our society puts these ideas into survivors heads that it’s their fault or they deserve it,” said Johnson. “All of your stories really make a difference.”

It was her first time sharing a piece she wrote since becoming a survivor a month ago.

“Art expression is a super valuable way for people to release feelings and thoughts they may not be able to get out otherwise,” said Johnson. “Expressing myself definitely helps me one way or another.”

Working at past poetry slams and speak-outs inspired her to let her voice be heard.

“I really learned how important it is to have a safe space for people to feel comfortable to express themselves and their experiences,” said Johnson. “Without these safe spaces, it’s hard for someone to heal. I definitely resonate with that.”

The support she’s gotten from her coworkers, friends and other survivors she knows has given her the courage to share her story.

“I looked to them for strength and found courage within myself from the courage they had,” said Johnson.

Emma Sharp and Charlie Landeros, members of UO’s Sexual Wellness Awareness Team switched the mood up with rhythm and poetry.

The crowd responded back with praise as the duo rapped lyrics like “It’s my body and you’re not God motherfucker.”

Concluding the slam a man named Julius Alecsandre shared his story about being sexually assaulted and his family not supporting him.

“I’m very openly gay,” said Alecsandre. “Pertaining to sexual awareness, this is my story.”

The crowd covered their mouths and put their heads down as Alecsandre shared vivid details about his horrific experience.

“Even though I was fighting back his fists felt like bricks to my face. I felt him tearing me open,” said Alecsandre. “I remember waking up in the hospital surrounded by my family. They were embarrassed and angry.”

Dealing with the trauma of being sexually assaulted isn’t something that is easy to overcome, the scars never heal. But there are ways to help, you don’t have to suffer and isolate yourself. You don’t have to live feeling alone. There are people who care and you do matter.

“I want to challenge people to educate themselves on sexual assault. Go to events like this. There’s very real humans behind the stories, get to know them,” said Landeros. “Art is one of the last forms of magic we have in this world, especially poetry, it’s just raw emotion.”

At a Glance:

  • According to the Bureau of Justice, “Sexual assault is a wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape. These crimes include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offender. Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling.  It also includes verbal threats.”  
  • Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network has reported that every year there’s an average of 293,000 cases of sexual assault.
  • Every 107 seconds another American is sexually assaulted, 44 percent of victims are under the age of 30.
  • Four out of five assaults are from someone known by the victim and 47 percent are a friend or acquaintance.
  • Sixty-eight percent of assaults are not reported to police, meaning 98 percent of rapists will never face jail time.


Poetry Month Highlight: Walt Whitman “The Father of Free Verse”

Art, poetry, talk, Uncategorized

By Alyssa Campbell



In honor of poetry month I wanted to write something to celebrate one of my favorite American poets, Walt Whitman. He was a poet who wasn’t afraid to reject the traditional poetry style. By challenging it he created a new style, known today as free verse. His genius wasn’t appreciated during his time but he opened new doors by consistently showing a strong sense of self, confidence and devotion towards human dignity. He was able to see the beauty and love in all people and represent that by tying everything back to himself. He did this in a completely non egotistical or vain way. Instead he was able to see the divine within himself that he saw in all people.

He has inspired some of the greatest writers including Langston Hughes, with his admirable unapologetic desire to express himself truthfully. His use of repetition helps to place importance on certain feelings that are brought forward through his poetry. His choice of diction and word placement give his poetry a completely new form because it carries so much depth and opens new possibilities. I especially enjoy the way he describes the senses and the natural world. His outlook shows that he loved the mystical and saw this all as a part of who we are.

Essentially Walt Whitman is a reflection of all of us, the confidence we all seek to find within ourselves. He truly had a love for helping people. He was someone who wanted to bring forward the good in humanity by demonstrating it through his own acts of kindness. The poem by Whitman that inspired this piece is from “Song of Myself” beginning number 24 and ending on line 544. I wanted to try to create a piece that would capture the different points he made by using myself. He starts by introducing himself, “Walt Whitman, kosmos, of Manhattan the son.” By adding “kosmos” after his name he is embracing the idea that he is a part of the universe, therefore from the beginning he introduces himself as a part of everyone and everything.


I wanted to mirror that first line, but I put “infinite” representing that we are all full of many possibilities and our souls are endless. This also ties into Whitman’s view on death, which he saw as something just as beautiful as life. He believed it is just the beginning for something else, another life. Although Whitman was not from Manhattan I believe he wrote “of Manhattan the son” because he drew a lot of inspiration from there. It inspired a lot of his work, including “Leaves of Grass.” Although Oregon is a new chapter in my life and has been inspiring so much of my work, being from Long Beach, I wanted to use that. It’s where I came from and has made me who I am today.

He talks about basically cutting yourself loose from whatever it is that is limiting you, “Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from the jambs!” My take on this was to use a window, the idea of flying and being free. When referring to “free fall” it was NOT to glamorize the idea of death or suicide, but to represent letting yourself go and not holding yourself back.

In line 506 he touches on his belief that we are all equal and that is what he lives by. I definitely wanted to mirror that in my poem. Starting line 508 he wrote how he is the unfortunate in this word. He doesn’t look down on them nor separate them from himself.


Going further Whitman does a beautiful job touching on the senses. In each line of “Leaves of Grass” he uses diction that expresses the human body as a beautiful creation, by making that connection to everything around us. Whether it be “shaded legs,” “rich blood,” “breast that presses against other breasts,” “trickling sap of maple,” “fibre of manly wheat,” “broad muscular fields,” “branches of live oak.”

People looked down on and shamed Whitman for being so open about his sexuality. He wrote “voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil’d and I remove the veil.” Which he certainly did. I wanted to talk about a veil that I hope to lift through my poetry which is not feeling bad for FEELING. A lot of the time we are told to suppress our feelings, deal with it, keep it to ourselves. Channeling those emotions into poetry and art is an amazing form of therapy and there is definitely something out there for everyone to connect to.


“Re-examine all that you have been told… dismiss that which insults your soul.”


“Be curious, not judgmental.”


“I exist as I am, that is enough.”


“I am not the poet of goodness only, I do not decline to be the poet of wickedness also.”


“The wonder is always and always how there can be a mean man or an infidel.”


“The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.”


I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.”

-Walt Whitman


Song of Myself

by Alyssa Campbell


Alyssa Campbell, Infinite, of Long Beach the daughter,

Sensitive, sincere, millennial, bleeding and healing

No saint, no stranger to the fabricated reflection of my ancestor’s through my parents

No more guided than misguided.


Push through the fog of depression and fly through open windows!

Push through the windows and free fall!


Whoever belittles another belittles me

And those who hurt with longing to be loved are loved by me


Through me is hope and feeling and feeling , through me the sheeple and the



I cry the tears of the empathetic and I give voice to the voiceless.

For He is my witness! I will settle for nothing less than equality for all until it is practiced by all through love and compassion.


Through me the struggle of the streets,

Whispers from the darkest places of the mind creating prisons out of flesh

Whispers from the sick and the suffering and of the crazy and cool


I believe in the tired and the trapped,

Loving, hurting, overcoming, are things to look forward to and the pain I have felt has been necessary in shaping me.

Whole am I, never craving the love of another to fulfill the void in my heart. I am love and loved.


If I look where I worship it is not in any figure or person or being but the divine within me that is a part of something greater

Growing and going further it is because of you!

Broken branches and colorful flower petals stand out because they mirror both sides of you!

The sound of the rain on my roof, sinking into the earth of my skin is in praise of you!

The sun shines and gives me life, cleansing what no longer serves my soul inspired by you!

Faces I have seen and have never seen and that I am waiting to see are all revealed in the image of you!


The depths of the ocean, the rays of the sun, the hypnotizing glow of the moon, the possibilities of the stars shining confidently show all the greatness you shall become.