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3-Minute Interview: Artist Anthony Dye

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Dye started painting in Georgia's Dooly State Prison, where he was serving 20 years for armed robbery. The prison wouldn't provide him with art supplies, so he began painting with things like mustard, coffee and fruit punch. After he got out in April, Dye relocated to the District and is for a foundation that assists prisoners with art. He sells his work from the Foggy Bottom Metro station.

How did you get interested in art?

I was looking in a book, an art book in the library, and I happened to pick up one on Picasso and his abstracts, and I got kinda envious. I thought, "Wow, if he could make faces like that, I could, too." I also kinda admired him; he left something behind that people would see for hundreds of years. And I thought, "I have all this time, what if I die in prison? I'd like to leave something behind -- something people could see and think was really cool, and they'd see something beyond someone who just was in prison."

What did you use?

I started making collages, had to use floor wax instead of glue. Even with painting, I didn't have a paintbrush, so I took the eraser out of a pencil, and I had a buddy with coarse hair, so I said, "Come on man, just let me take a little bit," and he said, "You won't take much, right?" And I said, "Naw, man." So I took a big plug, and he cried like a baby.

How do you choose what to paint?

It's kind of like songwriting, I guess. When you get a tune in your head, you sing it. When I was in prison I would think about things, I did one artwork called "Canons have no honor," and I sold that one on Sunday. It was a samurai talking about how there was a time in battle where there was honor, and canons took that away because they kill indiscriminately.

- Andy Brownfield

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