Local folk artist shares his heartfelt roots

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By: WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Zoe Blair

Like many lifelong artists, Kentuck Art Center Studio Artist Scott McQueen spent a good chunk of his life in an unrelated career, dabbling in his free time as little more than a hobby.

In McQueen’s case, as he grew up in Fayette he found himself attracted to the works of fellow Fayette-area folk artists like Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Fred Webster and B.F. Perkins.

“Being exposed to that at such a young age was great,” McQueen said. “Growing up, folk art was about the only thing that I thought was art, just because that’s what I was exposed to.”

At that time, he didn’t consider art as a potential career, but he spent a lot of time creating for fun.

“Instead of taking notes in algebra, I would draw faces in the margins,” McQueen said. “When I was in church, I painted a lot for the church bulletins or the holiday backdrops. I did folk art on kids’ birthdays. I’d draw them a card with a chicken or a dog.”

At McQueen’s studio, it’s clear he takes inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. There’s a Dolly Parton image made out of bottle caps alongside an expressive llama saying “drop the drama,” and his work is all about salvaging trash and making treasure. One of his most popular pieces of art he’s created again and again: a sign made of cut-up license plates reading “love is love.”

That message is especially heartfelt for McQueen. He spent 35 years as a Baptist pastor, but his path toward art and love began in earnest when he made an intensely personal decision: support his son, who came out as gay at 17.

“He told me that he wasn’t pretending, and I told him that I knew he wasn’t, but that was the problem,” McQueen said. “My brain tells me that this is OK and it’s just the way you are, but the Bible tells me that something’s wrong, something’s off.”

McQueen has a doctorate in theology, so he used the research skills he gained during his years of seminary to dive deep into Biblical history.

“I got my Greek and Hebrew Bibles and the lexicons that went with them, and I also got my English Bible and I sat down and compared them,” McQueen said. “I kept a journal with very detailed notes, and I compared the verses about homosexuality side by side.”

What he found, he said, were misinterpretations of ancient words of wisdom.

“For someone to come forward in a conservative church and say that the Bible had been misinterpreted, it was paramount to heresy,” he said. “It was a death sentence for a pastor and grounds to be kicked out of the church.”

Fully aware of the consequences, McQueen took a stand in front of his congregation and defended his son.

“First I went to (my son) and apologized for being wrong, and then I took it before the church leadership,” he said. “It caused some turmoil in the church for a while before I finally went before the congregation one day and resigned. I told them that I no longer ascribe to the Baptist faith and doctrine because I do not believe that homosexuality is a sin.”

While McQueen no longer serves as a pastor, his faith in God remains strong and is evident throughout his works. On the back of every painting, he writes Matthew 22:36.

“The passage simply says that we’re supposed to love God, and the way that we love God is by loving others,” McQueen said. “I think it’s a way for me to still do ministry in a sense. We’re all created to love one another.”

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