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10 Minutes with Patricia Stewart

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your artwork.
I earned a fine arts degree from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree from Chicago State University. I 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. I retired from a successful art teaching career, Art Curriculum Developer/Coordinator, Lead Teacher, Standards Based Curriculum Coach, and graphic artist for the Chicago Public Schools.

I exhibit collections of paintings and abstract assemblages which employing both vibrant and muted colors often infused with metallic accents. The sculptural nature of leather initiates large bas-relief assemblages. Found objects integrated into the pieces transform traditional uses. Leather’s ability to be mutilated and colored lends itself purposefully to sculpting. The use of exciting colors, overlapping construction, and original shapes, combine past cultures with contemporary forms.

I received numerous awards for my work from various institutions. My paintings, sculptures, and jewelry have been exhibited at the Neleh Art Gallery, Susan Woodson Gallery, Dixon School African Diaspora, 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, Gallery Guichard, and several studio shows. As an art teacher, I taught with breath, wealth, and deliberation. As an artist, my work reveals the integrity of the human spirit, the sensitivities of life, the unity of family, the fidelity of friends, and pride in my African-American heritage.

2. How does living/working or being from Chicago influence your creative practice?
I love living in the City of Chicago. I was born here. I love the fact that art has influenced the growth of this city. I appreciate how urban planner Daniel Burnham and businessman A. Montgomery Ward designed around our beautiful beaches leaving them unblemished by buildings to enable the public to forever enjoy them. I appreciate how Chicago has embraced the arts by promoting every aspect of it which includes visual, performing, and the culinary arts. However I am truly disappointed at how our Chicago Public School system has chosen to reduce and /or eliminate art from the curriculum.

3. Describe the moment that you realized that you wanted to make art a career.

I wanted to make art my career when I was a small child. When asked I would answer, “An artist!” Subsequently when I went to college I never enrolled in any core classes without adding an art class to my schedule. I loved art and was quite good at it. I chose to major in art after I found that I had so many art credits that I made it my major.

4. Can you remember your first memorable encounter with a piece of artwork?