Growing up in a deeply religious community means you do things a little differently. In the case of experimental video artist Minister Akins, it meant long hours spent in hot churches punctuated by the fever of churchgoers catching no less than the Holy Ghost. For Akins, whose great-grandmother and grandfather were both pastors, whose grandmother was a preacher and first lady, mother, an evangelist, and father, a deacon, it's impossible to deny the influences of that passion, or, as Akins himself puts it, "how emotionally heavy the environment was." Tears, devotion, and moments of divine, unadulterated beauty would come to shape 20 years in the towns of Eden and Greensboro, North Carolina, and at the Monument of Faith Holiness Church. The anything-will-happen freak-for-all that is packing your bags and moving to New York City would pare the next five.
"Pretty much my entire side of my mom's family is in the church. Which is why I'm such a whack job," Akins tells The Creators Project. "Experiencing that much emotion (crying, pain, catching the Holy Ghost, etc.) plays a lot into where I continue to work in my work. Not with every piece, but..." He tapers off, knowingly. Peppered with influences from voguing and ballroom culture, to minimal techno (psychic parallels to Pentecostal passions? Perhaps.), Akins' body of work, which includes music videos for Cakes da Killa, Born Cages, and Chapman, and video art pieces featuring the likes of no less than sheer downtown darlings, FKA twigs' dancers, and designs by CFDA finalists, reads like Steve McQueen's early video works if they were shot by Richard Avedon. Sent through the fabulous food processor that is New York City in 2015, Minister Akins' videos and GIFs should be seen as parables for the centuries-old stories he grew up on: proof, viscerally, narratively, and aesthetically, that you'll never truly know Heaven without a taste of Hell first.
The Creators Project figured we'd skip words, premiere Minister Akins' newest video, White Dove Tambourine, and let the images do the talking. The artist even responded to our interview with a set of new, original GIFs.
The Creators Project: First off: Who are you?
Where do you come from?
What'd you learn there?
When did you know you'd become an artist?
How do you want viewers of your works to feel?
Minister Akins: All at once.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Finally, what's next for you?
Stay tuned to Minister Akins' website for new videos and updates on the upcoming Holy Communion Project.