Local artist rises to fame, grows in faith after coming out

If you go to the model homes at The Icon or The Velocity, be sure to note some of the art hanging in these swanky downtown Nashville hot spots. Among the sleek sophistication and contemporary lines of downtown living, you’ll see several pieces of art by Nashville artist David Maddux.

Maddux began producing art in 2005 when he was decorating his home in Lenox Village. A few years later, after moving downtown, his artwork was featured in the 2008 Live it Up! Downtown Home Tour program.

“Exposure from the model homes has led to commissions for other art pieces,” Maddux said. 

And it appears Maddux’s work will continue to be in demand though he doesn’t earn his living as an artist yet.

“I enjoy working a variety of jobs to skillfully put together a living,” Maddux said. “The variety makes each day different.”

Maddux grew up in Crossville, Tenn., on a 350-acre agricultural farm with his parents and two older brothers who attended a Church of Christ. 

“While faith was an important part of our lives, my parents weren’t quite as strict as many in the Church of Christ are typically,” Maddux said.

Graduating in the top 10% of his high school class earned Maddux a scholarship to Roane State Community College for two years and he completed his degree in Business Administration at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.

“During college, I tried to date girls. After all, that’s what you’re supposed to do,” Maddux said. “But it never worked out … I kept telling myself this one just wasn’t the right one.”

After graduating in 2000, Maddux planed to move to Nashville later that fall. But, as he was planning his future, his parents were growing increasingly curious about his life.

They knew a lot about the lives of his brothers, but Maddux kept a lot to himself. His parents didn't know Maddux's friends or who he was moving to Nashville with.

“I had gone through the whole ‘Who am I and why am I this way?’ scene,” Maddux said. “And I definitely had my own challenges when it came to reconciling my faith and my sexuality. But mine really don’t compare to others I’ve heard.”

One day, while Maddux helped his mom wash dishes, she asked him some personal questions. Maddux said he didn't have time to panic as the conversation proceeded carefully.

“Do you date much?” his mother asked.
“Not really”
“Do you like girls?” she said.
“Not really.”
“Well…do you like men?” she asked.
“Yeah I do…but I can’t help it.”

At that point, for the first time, Maddux’s mom knew she had a gay son. 

“We cried a bit and dinner that night was very quiet,” recalls Maddux.

Soon after, his father told him he and his mom had discussed the previous conversation and he believed being gay was not a choice. Their silence was not to be mistaken for disapproval as neither of Maddux’s parents had an abrupt or negative reaction.

“Even today, dad isn’t one to ask us a lot of personal questions," Maddux said. "He’s always there anytime any of us need him. He loves to talk. But he’s not going to dig into our personal lives.”

In 2008 Maddux began attending Holy Trinity Community Church on the west side of Nashville. “A friend of mine who sings in their choir had told me about it … in a very non-aggressive manner he shared with me how much being there has meant to him and how much being involved in this church has changed his life,” notes Maddux.

Maddux feels being active in a church is important. “It helps me be a better person, and it helps me to be less focused on myself by being focused on others. I’ve now invited at least four friends to come with me. So many times church life is viewed as an obligation as opposed to a great opportunity.”

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