“Sit Down Somewhere,” Sydney G James’ solo exhibition, opens to the public on October 12th from 6-9pm.
The exhibition features her most recent series of drawings and paintings as a call to action for black women to reclaim their thrones. Her portraits of female muses allow each of their own personal inspirational figures or influencers to share space on the canvas as a unified composition.
Each silhouetted figure shares the story behind the powerful black women represented to honor to those who have come before them. “Whenever our mothers, mentors, and guides wanted to share wisdoms- they made us – literally- take a seat in order to share an err of caution, or offerings of life lessons, provide encouragement to move forward or, to stop and think.” Often, these women had to ‘stand up’ so that others, including James herself, would have the ability to ‘sit down somewhere.’
As the result of lack of social justice specifically in regards to black women in America, her work is an on-going focus of black female subjects. In 2015, she birthed a body of work entitled, “Appropriated Not Appreciated (ANA),” as an ongoing series of artistic expressions ranging from drawings, paintings, and social experiments to massive murals painted around the world highlighting fellow black women. The evolution of her subject matter from “Appropriated Not Appreciated” has since transitioned to a point of Reclamation.
Detroit-bred and based fine artist, muralist and 2017 Kresge Fellow Sydney G. James earned her BFA at the College for Creative Studies in 2001 and began her career as an Art Director in advertising, relocating to Los Angeles in 2004 pursuing work in the film and television industry as an artist and earned her master’s degree in secondary education.
Returning to Detroit in 2011, Sydney has become a leading creative voice in Southeast Michigan. Exploring themes of the racial and gender positioning of the black woman in America as “last” or “least among others” in society, has been the central theme in Sydney’s work.
Her portraits and murals seek to reposition this narrative of the black woman’s visibility and importance bringing them to the forefront of the conversation. Influenced by the artists Barkley L. Hendricks, Hubert Massey, Jenny Saville and the Afri-COBRA collective, Sydney’s art expands figurative painting with bold brushwork, colors and imagery.
James has exhibited her work at MOCAD, Charles H. Wright Museum, Inner State Gallery, PLAYGROUND DETROIT, Collective Detroit Gallery, Detroit Artist Market, Red Bull House of Art, and Janice Charach gallery.
She created public murals from 2015-2018 during Murals in the Market in Detroit (recognized by Smithsonian Magazine as one of the world’s best), New Orleans, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Pow Wow Hawaii, Pow Wow Long Beach, Pow Wow Worcester, and Accra, Ghana. Her most recent work has for client, Ford Motor Company for 2019 Essence Fest, in addition to being one of the faces of The Lip Bar cosmetics.