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Chattanooga's Pride: Remembering Austin McDougal

The following article is a reprint of our previous article featuring Austin McDougal, a phenomenal local visual artist and member of the LGBTQ+ community who passed away in 2020. We are reprinting this article as a way to memorialize Austin and have received permission from his family to do so. Austin was one of the first artists to ever work with Scenic Trend, and a great voice in the arts and LGBTQ+ communities of Chattanooga.

In the critically acclaimed book The Artist Way by Julia Cameron, Cameron mentions how for many artists, the idea of fully committing to their art is more than daunting. Artists have a tendency to not fit nicely into the roles society carves for us, and fear of being looked at strangely deters many talented people. Austin Reese McDougal is one of the few brave enough to pursue his art dreams regardless of that fear. Austin is a local phenomenon who is filling Chattanooga with artwork that the Scenic City has seen nothing like before. He never would have gotten here though if he hadn’t decided to take the risk of being himself and committing to who he is, regardless of what others might think.

Austin is originally from Gallatin, a town near Nashville. As a child, he was always surrounded by talent and creativity as most of his family members were involved in music and supported the arts. Austin was naturally drawn to drawing as a child and spent much of his time practicing. It was in high school that Austin took his first steps in pursuing his dream of being an artist. With the support of his art teachers at Station Camp High, he excelled in his art courses and was welcomed into the Governor's School for the Arts (GSFTA) at just 16 years old. During his time at GSFTA, Austin embraced himself and came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. In 2014 Austin moved to Chattanooga to study painting at UTC and he attended for three years before making the big decision to leave the college to focus on his work. He had a moment of realization that the narrative he had been told that he would have to get a college degree to be successful wasn’t true. Academia was draining him and pulling him into a depressive state, so Austin broke convention and instead chose to go do what he loved.

You can still visit Austin's Instagram to see any events with his artwork or artwork sales that his family organizes.