Raised in Wilmington’s Westside, Terrance Vann is helping to develop the Creative District
For Terrance Vann, the phrase “art is life” is not just an ideal or cliché, but reality. While putting in 40 hours a week as a web designer, the 23-year-old Wilmington native has worked weekends and nights the past few months completing a nine-piece fine art series. He also recently published a 40-page book of illustrations called Killing Time.
His artwork and motivation caught the attention of Wilmington Renaissance Corporation, whose members invited him to work alongside the WRC to help cultivate Wilmington’s Creative District, which is to be a living and work area for creative, local entrepreneurs and residents—artists, musicians, designers, manufacturers. Locally designed goods and original works will be made and sold. The Creative District will redevelop the Quaker Hill neighborhood, and plans are to spread the district from Market Street to Washington Street, and Fourth Street to Ninth. Groundbreaking for artist housing is slated for spring and summer.
Says Barb Bullock, director of development and communication at WRC: “Terrance is an artist with great energy and enthusiasm for his hometown and just the kind of person who can spearhead some really exciting events and happenings downtown.”
Comprising vibrant, portrait-style paintings of faces, “Life Through Color” is Vann’s first series, which he says is a culmination of past experiences, situations, family members and friends melded into graffiti-inspired pieces. He used to be a graffiti artist, and that style—graphic, colorful, bold—found its way into his fine art ventures.
He says the title of the series is a double entendre.
“All characters are of color, a representative of the neighborhood I came up in and everyday life – not overly beautiful, but [the faces say] ‘I’m tired,’ or ‘happy’ or ‘sad,’” he says. “I wanted to depict life as much as I could in a nine-piece series. This series has changed my life.”
Growing up in Wilmington’s Westside, Vann has been creating art since doodling at the age of 5. He attended Cab Calloway School of the Arts, the Delaware College of Art and Design, Pratt Institute in New York City and the Art Institute of Philadelphia, where he graduated in 2013.
He currently works as a web designer at hibu in King of Prussia. There, during workday lulls, he says he produced his book of 80 illustrations as a mental break from working on his paintings.
A resident of Cool Spring, Vann is working with members of the community to help bridge communication gaps and build cohesion in the city. He believes he has a relationship with the community that entities like corporations don’t know how to access, and vice versa. And he’s hoping that through the Creative District “a great bridge” can be formed so that the two sides can “really get things done.”
“I want to be a person that people can lean on, who can speak for artists in the city, speak for the city and creative people. I try to represent that every day, wherever I go,” says Vann.
His non-stop art can be exhausting, but when a young person or fellow artist walks up and tells him he’s an inspiration, he in turn is encouraged to continue.
“I don’t think there’s a better reason for art—to inspire others to create art.”
“Life Through Color” has been featured at Levitea, the tea bar on West Ninth Street, and other works have been displayed at Home Grown Café in Newark.
For more information on Vann’s work, visit terrancevann.com/web.html. For more on the Creative District, go here.