Sydney G. James | Artist Overview

Detroit-bred and based visual artist and muralist Sydney G. James earned her BFA at the College for Creative Studies in 2001 and began her career as an Art Director in advertising. Sydney moved to Los Angeles in 2004 to work as a visual artist in the film and television industry 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 recently. 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.
She is one of the founders of BLKOUT Walls Festival, launched in the North End neighborhood of Detroit in Summer of 2021. James has displayed her art at MOCAD, the 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 has completed public murals in Detroit for the 2015-2018 Murals in the Market (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. Sydney is the recipient of the prestigous 2017 Kresge Fellowship award.  She recently created artwork at Essence Fest 2019 for Ford Motor Company, and is featured as one of the campaign faces of The Lip Bar cosmetics.

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“Drawing is an accessible medium that is comfortable to work with. It’s very forgiving. It’s very flexible. It’s a medium that is easy to communicate with (and through).”