Van Bankston

Van Bankston

Milford, PA, United States

About Van Bankston

My artwork is about being authentic, editing the world, editing my life to what is the truth. Going beyond the things I have done or acquired, I find myself to be abstract—like my art. With my painting, I want to create and evoke a visual pathway to experience spirituality. I hope my art encourages others to self-reflect; that it makes them stop, pause, take a breath, and contemplate. I hope it is a respite that is lifegiving, empowering, and supportive of self-discovery.


I was born and grew up in Greenwood, a town in the Mississippi Delta (USA), where creativity and culture are a way of life. During my undergraduate education I explored the many ways of processing the world visually, studying landscape architecture, interior design, and fashion design. I worked in New York City as an interior designer at Bloomingdale’s, as Home Furnishing Coordinator for Bergdorf Goodman, and as Corporate Design Director at Estee Launder, Inc. I returned to Mississippi to discover a new level of authenticity. I lived there fifteen years in a house I designed. The work on my website is largely from that period.


Over the course of painting, I discovered a calling from deep within. Painting became a spiritual practice. I learned I had to get out of my own way and allow myself to be available to it. I found the larger-than-myself source of creativity to be God.


I served as Director of Camp Coast Care in Mississippi, a relief center for Hurricane Katrina, and became aware of my call to become a priest. I was the first openly gay person to seek ordination in the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi. Currently, I am in my seventh year as rector in an Episcopal parish in rural Pennsylvania, where I live with my partner and our cat.

Education

2011 Master of Arts in Divinity, General Theological Seminary, New York, NY

2004 Master of Arts in Teaching, Mississippi Valley State University, Itta Bena, MS

1986 Certificate in Fashion Design, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, NY

1978 Certificate in Interior Design, New York School of Interior Design, New York, NY

1976 Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, Mississippi State University. Starkville, MS