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Hope, Sweet Home

Bobby Eppleman


House Self Portrait , 2016. House Self Portrait , 2022

It was dark out when left my home. I had spent the first nine years of my life living in what I saw as a paradise. One where I could step outside of my house, and still feel as comfortable as I was in my own living room. Not anymore. I remember looking out the back window of our Suburban, locking eyes with my house, forever memorizing it as it disappeared into the night. That was the last time I saw my home in Apple Valley, Minnesota. We would drive through the night and arrive in Pennsylvania later the next day.

I wasn’t too keen on leaving behind what I thought was a perfect world. Before moving, I didn’t know what anxiety was and I hardly understood what bullying looked or even felt like. The East coast taught me all about that. Trying to fit into a group of kids like the ones I fit in with in the Midwest wasn’t the same. People were guarded and competitive to the point where I couldn’t tell who was being hurtful to me and who was just playing around. My world didn’t look the same and over time I began to adopt a mindset that would ultimately hold my hope hostage.

After moving, it took me twenty years to see the world around me through a different set of lenses. I had lost my ability to hope for something better, and ever since the “Life of an Artist” chose me as its subject, my diminishing hope greatly influenced the way in which I presented my art.

I had grown into a people-pleaser and an over-achiever who very much cared about my outside appearance. This persona carried over into my artworks, in particular, my drawings and paintings of homes. Straight lines, perfect angles, and perfectly curated for the customer. It took me a long time (and I mean a long time) to realize how intertwined my art was with the way I viewed myself and the world.

After several years of presenting myself as a professional in this manner, something inside of me started to question if there was any hope for my art career. I decided to confront myself on the matter.

A typical commission-style home portrait in a style that was pleasing to others, but limiting to my own self-expression.

Evidence in my sketchbook of the artist I wanted to be.

It’s funny how things seem to change in an instant. I spent decades creating artworks that presented “the literal.”

Along the way there was evidence, particularly in my sketchbooks, of the artist you now see in front of you.

It took some brutally honest conversations with people I trusted combined with having faith in my own inner voice, to finally start doing what felt right. I eventually discovered hope for my art career because I took steps to change my circumstances.

Ironically enough, the subject matter I continue to create are of homes and neighborhoods. Through art, I learned that we can choose let our surroundings hold our mindsets hostage and just try to blend in the best we can, or; we can courageously view the world around us through a new set of lenses so that we can provide hope for ourselves and others. We have to strive to be the home where hope comes to live.

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