We had toured art galleries and shops throughout the prominent Bronzeville community in Chicago. It was lovely to view so many works and wares steeped in rich culture, identifiably rooted from Africa. We cut our tour short; it was a healthy appetizer. We knew our feast awaited us on 35th and Racine; we were visiting the work of P.J. Stewart.
Enter the gallery, and we experienced an array of color, dimension, movement, and African tradition, expressed by painting, sculpture, jewelry, and wine for this exhibition. The vision of the work was reflected by the artist. As she tended to sales and extended a warm welcome to us, Stewart was illuminating.
My eyes scanned pieces with fabric, oil, pastels, and I landed upon a hanging sculpture of all things natural. Stewart indicated, “This mobile assemblage was inspired by Yoruban culture.” When asked about the immense diversity of her work, Stewart explained, “My work is more linear,” each piece leading to a new illustration of (her) soul expression.
Stewart found her love of art at an early age. She reflected, “I thought everyone could (create).” As she came into the realization of her gifts, she studied, taught, and designed curriculum during her career. From her bio in Urban Aspirations:
Stewart, received a fine arts degree from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree from Chicago State University. She also studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the International School of Art and Design in Miami, Florida, and the Savanna College of Art and Design in Savanna, Georgia.
Mrs. Stewart retired from a successful art education career, Art Curriculum Developer/Coordinator, Lead Teacher, Standards Based Curriculum Coach, and graphic artist for the Chicago Public Schools.
I met the Omo People, sculptural beauties that guarded this sanctuary. Each ‘person’ displayed a tribal signature of nature/the Mother.
Mixed Media Sculpture
49″ x 10″
The Omo River is located in East Africa flows into the southern part of Ethiopia. Unfortunately, recent deforestation has been causing the rivers to hold less water and is responsible for damage that it is causing to the ecosystem that the local tribal communities depend on.
Of her career and mission, Stewart notes:
“As an instructor, I taught with breadth, wealth, and deliberation. As an artist, I reveal the Integrity of the Human Spirit, the Sensitivities of Life, the Unity of Family, the Fidelity of Friends, and Pride in my Heritage”
My artistic experience has been enhanced by this vast array of soul food. Thank you, P. J. Stewart.
P.J. Stewart has earned recognition for her dry pastels, acrylics paintings, leather jewelry, and leather assemblages, electronic photo reconstruction, and graphic designs.
P. J. Stewart has received numerous awards for her work from various institutions. Her paintings, sculptures, and jewelry have been exhibited at the Neleh Art Gallery, Susan Woodson Gallery, Africa International House, South Side Community Arts Center, Art Institute of Chicago, Southern Illinois University, Chicago Cultural Center, African American Cultural Center (University of Illinois, Chicago), DuSable Museum, Chicago State University, South Shore Cultural Center, ISF, Sapphire and Crystals, Senior Artists Network, Gallery Guichard, on line, and several studio shows.
Contact information: http://wetpaintbrush.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Garden Spices Magazine