Opening Reception: Thursday, March 30 from 7pm to 10pm
The work of Shara Mays is abstraction. The density of the ethos and ancestry that informs her work, and the work and lives of so many others, creates figuration. It makes intelligible and logical the intuitive and chaotic world in which her work is constructed. Her works are performances of both subconscious motions and are in constant conversation with the natural world. Originally from Princeville, North Carolina, her new body of work seeks to document and archive memories of her early childhood in The South. What is the importance of the North Carolinian-in-origin, Shara-in-design, and transregional-in-praxis lineages of these works?
Of the work, she says “we hold onto family stories for the future generations by archiving the places, people, the things, the life we led. Visual documentation and documentation based upon one’s memory can be profound. Even though time has moved on and a place is not tended to as it was before, the beauty shall remain. We never give up on home and the people that made that home possible.”
Overgrown is a solo exhibition in which 10 works of abstraction, one sculptural installation, and one sound recording come together to track movement through a transdimensional plain. The sculpture that uses old clothing from both Shara and her mother, and the audio recordings of phone conversations between the two, present the profound interiority of Black Women’s familial relationships. While the show beautifully explores abstracted landscapes similar to prior pieces by the artist, it incorporates an evolution of the ideas within her studio practice. In particular, visually archiving memories through the act of painting.
Shara Mays is a visual artist who creates paintings which take the shape and form of both landscape and intuitive figuration. Her works are performances of both subconscious motions and are in constant conversation with the natural world seen throughout Northern California. Originally from Princeville, North Carolina, her art practice represents an evolution of narrative, from a focus on literal, southern landscapes and family struggles, to chasing freedom through the act of painting.
She received her BFA degree from The Corcoran College of Art and Design at George Washington University, and her MFA in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute. Recent shows include a solo show at Chandran Gallery, as well as group shows in galleries and museums such as the de Young Museum in San Francisco, California. She has, in the past, been awarded a residency at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, and was an Affiliate Artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California from 2020 through 2022. Her work is included in both public and private collections, including the International African American Museum and the Green Family Art Foundation.
Artist Statement (abbreviated)
My recent work represents an evolution of narrative, from a focus on literal, southern landscapes and family struggles, to chasing freedom through the act of painting. My paintings take the shape and form of both landscape and intuitive figuration. My work is a performance of subconscious motions and is in constant conversation with the natural world. My newest body of work scales into monumental sizes. My ambition with these pieces is to add more physicality and monumentality to my paintings. I’m interested in amplifying the spaces and engaging with the viewer to think about their relationship to the spaces they encounter.
The gallery is open:
- Wednesday through Saturday from 12pm to 7pm
- Sundays from 11am to 5pm
Mehari Sequar Gallery is located at 1402 H Street NE.