Proud Stories: Dwayne Lawson-Brown aka Crotchet Kingpin (They/Him)
Q: What kind of performance artist are you?
Spoken Word Poet/Hip-Hop/Dancer
Q: When did you first know that you wanted to be a full-time artist?
According to some I may not be a full-time artist. I have a full-time job in public health, but I consider myself a "life-time artist" - the time where I'm living my life is consumed by art creation and sharing. I'm always been an artist; even in my public health work, art is infused. I guess there was a clear awakening for me around 15 years old. Around then, I was a peer educator for Metro TeenAIDS (now Whitman-Walker Health's RealTalkDC) and I was tasked with re-writing popular songs as pieces to promote positive attitudes. Because of that program, I got to travel the country, meet tons of people, and see the value in my art. I've been pursuing that blend of art and education ever since.
Q: How are you keeping yourself inspired to create during this unprecedented time?
If I weren't creating, I would be losing my mind. Literally. I write about every minute thing that happens. It all affects me. Some during isolation, became bricks - hard and callus to all. I became a binding of nerves; every micro-emotion can send me into a flurry. So I have to create or else I spiral.
Also, sometimes you don't have it in you. And that's ok. People have this notion that if artists aren't creating, they are failing. THAT IS WRONG. In fact, I consider it a failure of our support systems if we don't feel safe enough to take breaks. To be an artist is to take life's experiences and transform them into something else. Like a blacksmith working with liquid metal to make a sword; the wool going from sheep, to spindle, to sweater - artistry is alchemy. If we can't live, how can we create?
Q: What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome as an artist and how did you overcome it?
I am incredibly anxious about everything, always. Large crowds initially bothered me. Overtime, I learned that when I share and get through the work, people tend to move on to the next thing and I can get lost in the crowd. That's probably not the answer people expect to hear, but as someone who wants to share the art, but also wants to have space to experience life without the crowds and "fandom", that is what has felt healthy. Eventually, I became more comfortable in my skin regarding the crowd.
I'm still not one of those folks that is fed by the "thrill" of rocking the crowd. I'm relieved when it's over. There are other obstacles that I'm still dealing with - imposter syndrome being the main thing. I've been training myself to believe that I'm worth the attention, the gaze, the effort from all involved. That isn't a feeling isolated to artistry either. Ultimately, I believe that I will be struggling with feeling valid all my life.
Q: What are you most proud of in your career thus far?
My answers would be completely different if you asked me this in a different season. In February, I curated a free week-long arts festival at The Kennedy Center REACH celebrating DC artists, and every artist got paid - and payment wasn't dependent on crowd donations or audience numbers. That is still a major accomplishment on the curating side to me. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Drew Anderson and I revamped out two-man show "From Gumbo To Mumbo" for adults and performed LIVE from Keegan Theater throughout November. A live theater experience during a global pandemic, that was streamed across the country and internationally. I'm grateful to all involved because that experience was priceless.
Q: Is there anything you are working on now that can be shared and supported?
I'm involved in a bunch of things and hope to have some new things to announce in the coming weeks. Spit Dat In Residency - DC's longest Running Open Mic Series, moving towards 20 years.You can get more info here: SPIT DAT IN RESIDENCE and @SpitDatDC on IG.
I am the creator and designer for Crochet Kingpin Designs and I'm constantly working on projects. Wearable Art to Warm Your Spirit. - @CrochetKingpin on Twitter/IG. Crochet Kingpin on Facebook. CrochetKingpin.com to purchase pieces or my poetry book.
In partnership with Woolly Mammoth Theater Company and THEARC, Spit Dat DC is creating "Spit Dat Academy" a free performance/writing training program for Ward 7+8 residents. If you have ever had any interest in sharing your voice, this is a chance to work with artists doing the work in the field. Reach out to us via Woolly Mammoth's IG - WoollyMammothTC