Ferrari Sheppard

Foregrounding Black narratives with intuitive charcoal strokes and flashes of gold.

Ferrari Sheppard was born in 1983 in Chicago, and now lives and works in Los Angeles.

Education

The artist graduated from the Fine Art Institute of Chicago in 2004, where he was awarded both the Merit Award and Presidential Scholarship.

Career

Guest lectures delivered at Harvard University, Concordia University and the University of Minnesota - amongst other prominent institutions.

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Collaborations with this artist

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Practice overview

Ferrari Sheppard paints scenes from domestic life in acrylic, charcoal and 24-karat gold leaf. Wide, rough-edged brush strokes blur figuration and abstraction, giving each canvas a sense of physical movement. In the works, Sheppard centres Black narratives. The Americana series from 2019 for example depicts 1950s America from the perspective of African-American children. Focusing on their hand-games and cultural traditions of call and response, the artist celebrates the resilience and beauty of humanity, in spite of the violence perpetrated against Black people in America at the time. In his work as a writer, photographer, record producer and activist, Sheppard further explores racial and ethnic identity.

Sheppard’s art is a tender call to action. While his paintings are significantly personal, they also have an underlying political charge - to challenge dominant capitalist structures that prioritise work and profit above family time. Paintings like Bond (2020) depict a key motif that recurs throughout his practice - mother and child, a symbol of the human instinct to nurture and protect. “Right now, we live in an age where there is so much disagreement and turmoil, we need to focus on the things that are truly important.” By re-focusing on family, children and humanity in the face of racial inequality and a profit-driven world, Sheppard pulls together personal and collective histories, imploring the viewer to consider the importance of love, compassion and community.

“I think of my paintings as timeless, and the works are emotional to me, like scents.”Ferrari Sheppard