Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandra Bridges.
Sandra, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I am in awe of how my life is unfolding. With dreams deferred, at last, I have reached the status of a painter and have been recognized by my peers as accomplished in that area. Born and raised in Chicago, I graduated from Southern Illinois University with a B.A. in art education. I taught art in high school in Chicago for three years. However, at the time, Chicago offered no certification or security in that field so I went back to college to get the necessary credits to teach the primary grades. There I remained teaching kindergarten for over 30 years until retirement in 2009.
In 2012, I returned to the art of traditional oil painting and it was as natural to me as a bird taking flight. Over the past six years, I have had my work in several solo shows, paintings in publications, awards, and in prestigious private collections. In 2015, I was awarded the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago Award in Visual Arts.
December 2018 until March 3, 2019, you can view my paintings in the solo show titled Southern Roots Re-visited at the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, sponsored by the Black Studies Center of Purdue University.
I think back and remember as a little girl how I always enjoyed painting and claimed the title painter a long time ago. My parents, my friends always acknowledged it, and that made me smile. Today, I am a lot older and wiser and will tell you that I really don’t know how to paint. For me, painting is going from the abstract to the concrete. It is erasure and correction with brush and paint. It is bringing elements into focus and depicting mood and story. When you work to put all those elements together it can be quite daunting and humbling. It reminds me that I am growing and stretching. I am aware the end is beyond seeing.
I’ve also enjoyed working with others that are kindred spirits enticed by painting. In September I conducted a painting workshop at the Smart Museum in Chicago titled The Time Is Now To Learn How To Paint. That was centered around the exhibit there “The Time Is Now” presented by Art Design Chicago. Now I am working with eight fellow artists, curating a show Our Duty To Speak, that will showcase these black men. their art, and story. It will be at the Renaissance Court, the Cultural Center, downtown, Jan. 18 until March 1, 2019.
My story has had its ups and down yet so full of delightful occurrences. I still smile when you say that I am a painter.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I am a visual storyteller. Truth-telling in an honest, authentic, to the point visually, with no doubt about what is the center of my interest. My work is for the collector that seeks a masterpiece for his home or office. Southern Roots, the body of work, is forever expanding and changing as paintings are sold and new ones created. The work is endless.
I am a people person and painting is a vehicle of communication for me. I’m motivated to share out a historical legacy and choose to use a palette reminiscent of sepia tones found in old photos. You will see the sharecropper, his children in rest and play. Musicians also playing the language of our ‘soul’. These characters are depicted as real and not in caricature form. For that reason, I am a traditionalist and there is no mistaking I take each subject seriously. Some subjects may be people you recognize and others you will not, but the theme, the meaning of it and the story told is what’s most important to me. I may reference a photo or not, it all depends on whatever posture or setting you to find them. All is a deliberate attempt to convey a mood, a story relevant to each viewer. In so doing perhaps we may share something truly genuine. Maybe the core of where we find inspiration and that is the invisible thread that binds us all. That is why I paint.
What do you think it takes to be successful as an artist?
There are many reasons why we create and produce art. I”m not bound and constrained to paint on a deadline within the mandate of an employer. I don’t rely on the sales of my paintings to sustain me. I am retired and have the liberty to develop my body of work, and chose my subjects. I can paint in my own style and can accept or decline criticism.
There is no particular way to forge ahead as an artist. Today one must wear many hats and its a lonely journey. Networking is a skill. Marketing and advertising is a skill. The artist is expected to do it all and also produce work. There are art collectives to join, resource groups, billboards to follow, colleges to attend, and grants to apply for, but there is no roadmap to success. One is left to answer that for themselves. What is really important is to keep on pushing.
Success for me is taking pride in the work and giving you the best of me in each painting I complete. Success is growing and knowing that I am evolving with each one for the better. Success is feeling even if all the paintings don’t sell, they are masterpieces, no doubt. Success is that painting still makes me smile and seeing the effect these paintings have an on others too. It’s all for the best and it keeps me humble and thankful that I am a painter.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I am working on an upcoming solo show for May 2019. You can stay abreast of my work by following my website, www.sandrabridges.com. There you can find my events page and calendar of current and upcoming exhibitions 2019 and 2020. You can contact me through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions or would like to purchase a painting.
- Address: 17801 Pebblewood Ln., Hazel Crest, IL 60429
- Website: www.sandrabridges.com
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