Sydney James

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About Sydney James

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. Sydney headed to Los Angeles in 2004, to expand her career 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 one of the newest leading creative voices 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.

Sydney has displayed her art at MoCAD, the Charles H. Wright Museum, Inner State Gallery, PlayGround Detroit Gallery, Collective Detroit Gallery, Detroit Artist Market, Red Bull House of Art, and Janice Charach galleries as well as the Arts, Beats and Lyrics traveling exhibit. She has completed public murals in Detroit for the 2015-2018 Murals in the Market (recognized by National Geographic as one of the world’s best), New Orleans, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Pow Wow Hawaii, Pow Wow Long Beach, Pow Wow Worcester, Accra, Ghana, Kathmandu, Nepal and Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Some of her most recent work has been as a branding agent partnering with the Ford Motor Company for the 2019 Essence Fest, Detroit Lions, Chase Bank, House of Vans, StockX as well as being one of the faces of the Lip Bar brand of cosmetics. Sydney takes on each new project with the gusto and intention of one approaching a new adventure: excited, prepared and ready to engage.