Carolyn Sims' Autobiography
I have had an affinity for the creative side of life for as long as I can remember. In retrospect I realize that it was the rich country life that nourished my imagination and left me with a deep appreciation for life, creativity and the beauty of nature. As a child growing up in rural Brandon, Mississippi, (near Jackson), I spent many hot barefooted days with friends and cousins, playing and inventing games, creating and acting out plays, building playhouses, making toys, etc.. We would act out plays in full costumes that we made from objects found around the house and in the woods. Other times we would explore the woods, follow a stream to see where it would take us, catch strange creatures at the edge of my parent's pond or search the woods and roadsides for plums, berries, grapes and muscadines. I often call upon these experiences to capture a mood when I am painting.
My parents, R.S. and Ina Bell Cannon, were very supportive and encouraging. They invested in a correspondence art course for me when I was in my early teens, which taught me basic painting and drawing techniques. They were public school teachers and gave me many opportunities to practice and improve my skills especially when they needed bulletin boards for their classrooms.
My junior high and High-school years were spent in Jackson schools. I particularly remember the unusual art projects at Christ the King Catholic School. In 9th grade at Brinkley High School, Paul Campbell, who is now a prominent artist in Jackson, was my art teacher and a great inspiration.
I earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Alcorn (A&M College at the time) State University then moved to Detroit, MI., where I earned a Master of Arts degree in the field of education from the University of Detroit. It was during my stint as a biology teacher in the Detroit Public School system that I took an art course at a community center on the East side of Detroit. The instructor taught me oil painting techniques and I've been hooked ever since. Now I work almost exclusively in oil on canvas. While completing a Master of Arts degree at the University of Detroit I married and moved to Chicago, then to a suburb of Chicago, Country Club Hills, where my beautiful twin daughters, Alecia and Tracey, were born.
I did very little painting while raising my girls, not intentionally but my attention was on my family and art was just a hobby. In 1993 I began seriously painting again, gradually developing my distinctive viscous, 3-dementional style of oil painting. I am strongly influenced by the work of Annie Lee and Georgia O’Keeffe. My preferred subject matter is portraits, stillifes and abstracts. In addition to painting I also write poetry, do woodworking, stained glass, sculpture, fused glass jewelry and art pieces, design and make dolls, clay jewelry, handmade note cards, etc.
I was a charter member and an officer of the Creative Artist Association, Inc., from it’s beginning in January of 2005 to January of 2008. I have been a member of the Chicago Artists’ Coalition and the Woman Made Gallery in Chicago. I started the Chicagoland Artists Network (CAN) art group in January of 2008. I belong to the Tall Grass Arts Association in Park Forest IL. And the Union Street Art Guild in Chicago Heights, IL.
Some of the places at which my work has been exhibited are: Blackberry Harvest Doll House Museum Shop in Homewood, IL, Black Expressions Book Store in Homewood and Evergreen Park, IL, the DuSable Museum gift shop and art shows, Annie Lee and Friends Christmas art show and in the gift shop, the N.A.A.C.P. office in Chicago, Alpha .Kappa Alpha sorority, African-American Art and Craft Show, College of DuPage in DuPage, IL, Expo for Today’s Black Woman in Chicago, Art in the Park in Oak Park, IL, Seaway Nation Bank and their Arts and Crafts Show in Chicago, Country Club Hills, IL, art shows, Lincoln Park art fair, the ETA Theater in Chicago, Custer’s Last Stand Festival of the Arts in Evanston, IL, the Quaker Oats Company in Chicago, James R. Thompson Center in Chicago, Chicago Renaissance: A Festival Celebrating African American Art, held at Chicago State University in Chicago, the RAW art shows and Creative Artist Association shows held at the South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago, the Homewood Fine Art Fair, Orland Park Art Fair, Park Forest Art Fair, University of Illinois art Chicago, O’Hare Airport, Midway Airport, and the Chicago Art Open, and Governors State University.
I won an Award of Distinction for my oil paintings and as a result my painting, "Passion," hung in the DuSable Museum of African American History for 6 weeks in 2003. For the month of September, 2005, I exhibited as a solo artist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In February, 2006 my work was exhibited at the Richard J. Daley Center, The ETA Theater, and the South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago. During October, artists’ month in 2007, I exhibited at the Around the Coyote art show and I participated in the Chicago Open art show given by the Chicago Artists’ Coalition. I was also a guest artist at O’Hare Airport where I painted while bands played on concourses 2 and 3. I am among the artists in the photograph “A Great Day In Bronzeville” taken May 28, 2005.
Media: I appeared as a guest artist on the Jennie’s Reflections television show, and on the WKKC radio station in January and February, 2006, respectively. My work is presently displayed on digital signs in several businesses in Chicago, including Army and Lou’s Café by the digital signage company, Engage Everyone. I was the featured artist in the June 2007 issue of NewNegro Magazine. The Clarion Ledger and the Jackson Advocate newspapers in Jackson, Mississippi published articles about my artwork in 2007. On July 18, 2012 my work appeared on a digital billboard in Time Square in New York as part of Art Takes New York.