David Holt (b. 1984) expressed an early interest in music, romance and celebrities through his artwork as a member of Chicago’s Gallery 37, an after-school job-training program in the arts. In 2009, with the death of his grandmother, Holt turned his attention to obituaries, or “memorial portraits” of important persons. His canvas painting and drawings on cardboard are direct and show his sense of immediacy – he begins to work as soon as obituaries are posted and drawings are typically finished in one day.
A Virgo, Holt gives special mention to any celebrity in the Virgo-Cancer Club, a syndicate of his own making to honor some of his closest friends and family. This special club, together with the crowd of celebrity images that surround him, expresses Holt’s strong value in community and in creating connections. In an ironic twist, it is celebrity that seems to draw disparate peoples and strangers together through shared interests, music, and film. His work relies heavily on memory and association, as well as connectedness through current events and social media.
Holt is active participant in Special Olympics programming in softball, basketball, and weight lifting. He was recently interviewed for an article in the Chicago Sun-Times featuring his artwork, and is active in the autism advocacy community. Holt joined Project Onward in 2006 and currently lives in the South Chicago neighborhood.