A Q&A with artist Sandra Charles

When I was first introduced to Sandra Charles (scharlesart.com) and her art, she was a fiber artist specializing in batik. And darn good at it. But there’s been a shift in her art world, and now she is oil painter racking up accolades. She was in the first class of the Community Foundation of Louisville’s Hadley Creatives, and two of her “African Warrior Queen” paintings were chosen to hang in the recently-reopened Kentucky International Convention Center. 

LEO: What type artist are you?
Sandra Charles: I am an oil painter and refer to my art as interpretive portraits that concentrate on the issues that affect African-American women. I work in a painterly style using defined brush strokes to capture the personality of my subjects. Each of my paintings focus on the expressions that represent our history and the expectations of the future. Through my artwork, I look behind the façade of social perceptions and I attempt to capture the removal of this hegemonic veil which covers the struggle between self and the perceived social order. My work acknowledges this internal struggle as it fades away from the stereotypical norm towards a truer self. The facial expression of each woman contains the history of her progress. My artwork is a personal statement that captures this confidence of self.  

“Vonda, Confidence” by Sandra Charles. Oil on canvas painting.

How has your art changed over the years?
I have always painted, but my themes were not focused. For several years, I worked with batik fiber art. It was during this period I found myself drawn to figurative art but found batiks limited my expression. In order to explore figurative painting, I went back to school to learn and refine my painting skills. I was accepted into the BFA program [at UofL’s Hite Art Institute] and concentrated in painting. After graduation, I refined what I wanted to say through my art addressing the issues that are important to me. I continue to study and grow. This growth has helped me become more focused, and now my art speaks for me. 

You are currently showing at Wayside Expressions Gallery. What is the theme of the exhibition?
The theme of my exhibit is the expression of positive self-esteem by African-American women and girls. How we are the same, but different. How we are defined by a common history, but circumstances have enhanced our differences making each woman rich in personality and beauty. Each painting reflects this consistency as well as our background of inconsistencies making each painting a statement of individuality. 

“T’Keyah, Noble” by Sandra Charles. Oil on canvas painting.

What’s on your art bucket list?
I had to really think about this question because, for years, my top item on my bucket list was to work as a full-time artist, and now I have been blessed to achieve that goal. So, the second item is to be able to help adult emerging artists. One of the hardest things is to show your artwork for the first time. I would like to curate and help with that first exhibit. 

What is something most people do not know about you?
I love learning about art and try to buy as many art books as I can, but, for every book on art ,I have a book on astronomy or astrophysics. I love learning about the universe. 

About the Author

A Q&A with artist Sandra Charles

Jo Anne Triplett is the contributing visual arts editor at LEO Weekly. She’s a past member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Public Art, was the content advisor on the Glassworks Building video, and has written for Louisville Magazine, Kentucky Homes and Gardens and the national publication Glass Craftsman. Jo Anne came to Louisville from Washington, D.C. where she worked as a researcher and writer for the Smithsonian American Art Museum.



All Articles by this Author >