“Inspiration for my paintings come from a need to capture, define, record and communicate the histories, stories and moments in time of diverse groups of human populations globally. These recorded ‘moments’ serve as a portal, offering the viewer access to the lives and souls of those captured on canvas, and the lives and souls of us all.”

Carla Keaton is a recipient of a 2016 Artist Research & Development Grant.

Artist Research and Development Grants are designed to support the advancement of artistic research, aid in the development of artistic work and recognize the contributions individual artists make to Arizona’s communities. For more information about the Artist Research & Development Grant, click here.

The daughter of a Mississippi sharecropper, Carla Keaton plans to complete 16 to 20 paintings comparing the parallel lifestyles of sharecroppers who picked cotton during the first half of the 20th century in a pair of towns separated by 1,500 miles: Hamilton, Mississippi, and Eloy, Arizona. The paintings will be inspired and informed by historic records, old family photos, and interviews with individuals who worked in these communities, including her own father. Keaton’s daughter will assist in the research and documentation.

“This will be a fairly new process for me, since I am accustomed to working from life and single photos,” Keaton reported in her application for funding. “This process will strengthen my ability to create that which I cannot readily see, while at the same time developing, utilizing and strengthening my research and writing skills.”

Upon completion of the project, Keaton plans to publish a book featuring the collection of paintings and short biographies of all who told their story while the original paintings will be exhibited at Keaton’s gallery and gift shop, Keaton Fine Art: A Global Encounter, in Superior AZ. She further plans to tour the collection to historical museums and galleries across the country.

Carla Keaton received degrees in Painting and Physical Anthropology from Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. Her work has been featured in art galleries across Arizona. She is a commissioned portrait artist and has illustrated two published children’s books. Keaton is also a muralist and has created several murals across the valley.