Writer Spotlight: Leah Hughes

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Our Patreon supporters get to learn more about Ruckus writers through a series of lightning-round questions. This month, meet Leah Hughes.

Your hometown?
I’m from Fairdale, Kentucky—born and raised, baby.

Least favorite movement in art history?
I hate Rococo art. It’s too much. Too much vapid materialism, no diversity of subject matter. It’s boring. But, to be honest, I’m a hater. I love criticism. Art history as we learned it in school is full of villains—truly reprehensible people. Give me an opportunity to trash talk about any given movement and I’ll probably bite.

Most underrated Louisville or Kentucky artist?
There’s this amazing account on Instagram called @littlebubbychild where this artist named Wade from somewhere in Kentucky makes these MS Paint-adjacent drawings of characters and stories from rural, redneck life. The way Wade draws the figures and selects just enough text to tell a story is really smart. There’s all these pastel colors that all work really well together in the illustrations. The execution works nicely within the Instagram format. It’s like these people stepped out of my life. It feels good to have someone else make art about them. I wish I could meet this person in real life and thank them.

Your preferred creative medium?
I derive a lot of enjoyment from playing with unconventional hardware in my art practice. I was trained mainly as a painter and printmaker but I’ve dabbled in a little bit of everything. I love gross, sharp, broken/waste-based materials. Car fluids, waxes, blood of any kind, broken glass, hair, nasty smelling cigarette-addled trash—I cannot get enough of that stuff.

Your hidden talent?
I was in 4-H for years for rodeo riding and dog agility/obedience training. I still have an encyclopedic knowledge of dog breeds created before 2009.

Favorite destination to visit?
Valparaíso, Chile or Derry, Northern Ireland—two beautiful places with lots of really innovative political public art and many friendly working class people who are interested in talking about it.

Favorite museum or gallery in Louisville?
Sheherazade! I love an unconventional, super public art space. I would love to install something there someday.

Dream project?
I wish I could make a large-scale collaborative public art project that would raise class consciousness in the South End. I have no idea what form that would take, but I’m manifesting it for the future.

Favorite podcast?
EASY: Trillbilly Worker’s Party out of Whitesburg, Kentucky. It’s maybe my favorite media, period. When I lived abroad and was traveling alone a lot, it held me together (my partner calls this podcast my “friend simulator,” which was especially true then). Now, it’s a reminder that there are other people having conversations I want to have about leftist politics and culture in a language and setting I can relate to and understand. I’m a die hard fan.

Where do you write?
In my apartment, probably a day after the piece is due, late at night, frantically with frequent cursing. I love writing but I’m so bad at the process and time management. I’m working on it!

What kind of artwork do you have at home?
A graveyard of my own work that I haven’t given away or sold yet, my partner’s collages, and art my friends have given to me. I’m a huge fan of art trades and am always looking for new folks to trade with!

What is your trashiest trash?
Me. I am my own trashiest trash. It’s a source of pride for me.

What is your favorite vice?
I’ve grown out of it a little bit, but honestly, I still really love a super debaucherous party. It’s such a Louisville cliche, but I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when I was eighteen and Hunter S. Thompson really changed my life. In chaos there is authenticity and freedom. I’m weak for a really wild, bizarre party experience.

Leah Hughes is a regular contributor to Ruckus. Read some of her writing here.