University of North Carolina Wilmington
for his BFA, did curatorial work and gallery
management, and ran a local tattoo shop.
Along the way he met and married his
wife, Kim. They started their family as Duff
was finishing an MFA program.
He credits his life partner and his par-ents
Redear Sunfish, 7.75 x 9 inches, ink, watercolor and acrylic on NOAA chart.
with a lot of his success.
“It’s not difficult to be brave when you
have an amazing wife and incredibly sup-portive
parents,” he says. “Not only have
they been supportive, but my parents
really planted the seed by exposing me to
art early on. And my wife has truly infinite
patience. She is a wonderful woman and
she is so integral to my success.”
Another primary component of Duff’s
practice is creative and abstracted work
with oil. While a watercolor might be fin-ished
in just a few days, he spends months
on each of his oil portraits.
Duff has experimented with portraiture
and high-concept painting since his col-lege
days. This more conceptual arm of his
work is often influenced by sociological
and activist concerns. Duff has a naturally
observant and curious mind, possessing a
voracious desire to know more about the
world, including social and cultural issues.
“I’ve always been interested in activism
and was involved in student activism at
Elon,” he says. “It led me to a lot of read-ing
about global and national politics. I
was able to see America’s impact on the
greater world stage and our remaining
influence on places where we had once
been. I was also really interested in differ-ent
religions. So I was trying to process all
of these different worldviews and under-stand
the world around me. And the way
to do that — and bring peace to my own
mind — was through art.”
In college, Duff created work that inter-rogated
the negativity and sensationalism
of American news media. In graduate
school, this impulse turned into the “Traits
and Temperaments” series — portraits
exploring how social media encourages
users to present disingenuous versions of
themselves. Atlantic Sea Nettle, 10 x 8 inches, ink, watercolor and acrylic on NOAA chart.