Today we’d like to introduce you to Sharon Levy.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I grew up in Atlanta, GA, and from an early age I gravitated towards art. I was fortunate to have parents who gave me space to focus on it, and an inspiring and encouraging high school art teacher. I got a taste of living my dream in high school when I did a summer intensive painting program at Parsons in New York City, where I fell in love with art school and New York. For undergrad, I went to Bard College in the Hudson Valley, which was just an amazing place. My professors really pushed me to be ambitious in both scale and intent, and that’s something that has stayed with me.
I moved to Brooklyn, New York after college, which was thrilling. I worked in restaurants and then as a graphic designer for a record label. I had a studio, a boyfriend (who is now my husband), and all of my friends were there, but after five years I was ready to live somewhere where I could have a better quality of life. I headed to UCSD for grad school, where I–once again–worked with some great professors. It was there that I began to struggle with, and question the autobiographical, figurative, and narrative work I had been doing, and that eventually led me to the work I’m doing now.
I was very fortunate to get a solo show at the Santa Monica Museum of Art right out of graduate school. Then followed a long gap in which I held a full-time design job (that ended last year), had a child (now 6), suffered several concussions, and worked for a very long time on my most recent projects. But, I’m happy to say that this year I am participating in three shows and a residency.
Please tell us about your art.
I make sculptural installations, paintings, and works on paper that explore my sense of awe in the natural world, and my fear and sadness about its destruction. I’m interested in reminding viewers of the emotional and psychological impact of encountering something bigger than ourselves. This feels especially important as more of our encounters with the world are experienced through a screen, and as the effects of climate change become more of a reality. In many of my works, I attempt to imitate the perfection and overwhelming qualities of nature, while I’m also acknowledging how absurd that imitation is.
I’m obsessive about learning different materials and techniques from art and craft, as well as other fields like theater, and furniture design and each new project has required me to learn something new. For example, my last project “Canopy” used hand papermaking, and for my next project I’m learning about theatrical painting, and teaching myself how to work with an Arduino microprocessor to code LED lights and motors. I hope that this level of obsession comes through in the work and helps to add to the feeling of awe that I’m working towards.
Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
Being an artist can be really isolating, especially if you let yourself get into a cycle of comparing yourself to the successes you perceive in others. What has worked for me has been making work I feel proud of and saying “yes” to opportunities that have come up, even if they made me feel slightly out of my comfort zone. Finding other artists you connect with is so important, and if you don’t have a ready-made community, there are a lot of ways you can build one: through open critique groups, classes, and social media. I’m fortunate this year to be a part of the Torrance Art Museum’s Forum, which addresses this very issue of isolation by creating a collaborative community. I think the best thing you can do for yourself is to not hide in your studio until you finish all of your art (which is what I did for a long time), and get out and talk to people, so you realize that many artists feel the same way.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I will be in two shows this year: Blind Courier at The Brand Art Center in Glendale from June 29-August 23, and in December I’ll be in an exhibition at the Torrance Art Museum as part of their second year of Forum, which is a mentorship/residency/cohort.
My Instagram is @sharonrlevy, and my work is featured on my website, www.sharonlevy.com. Also, keep an eye on @tamforum to see what we are doing over there.
- Address: Studio: Inglewood, CA
- Website: www.sharonlevy.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sharonrlevy/
- Other: @tamforum
Lena Olson, Jeff McLane, Pablo Mason, Bruce Morr, Surge Witron