Artist Interviews 2022

Sydni Peeler/Studio Sydni  
By Laura Siebold

Sydni Peeler is an up-and-coming new artist who creates beautiful portraits of people of color. The artist only recently started her creative career path during the pandemic. As a flight attendant, Sydni has been introduced to many different cultures; diversity and inclusion show in her paintings. In her interview, Sydni shares some insights about her style, art as a catalyst of hope, and advice for novice artists, as well as her future plans. Sydni Peeler is based in San Francisco, CA.

Sydni, we met at The Other Art Fair Los Angeles this year, and I was drawn towards your art the very first time. I am happy we are finally sitting down for the interview. You revealed that you just recently became engaged with art. Can you please tell us how the pandemic initiated your artistic calling?

Before the pandemic, I would’ve considered myself an extrovert. But the pandemic took away my social life, essentially forcing me to remember the things that I like to do for myself. and of course, that was painting.

Your portraits of women are very realistic and impressive; I can feel the depth by layering and working with different shades of colors. How would you describe your style?

I’ve been told that my style is abstract realism but to be honest I don’t really know what that means, lol. As I mostly just paint what I feel. 

Your work primarily features women, men, and kids of color, and addresses black and Native American culture. What inspires your choice of subjects? Do your portraits relate to real people?

So, heritage wise I am both a mix of Native American and both western and eastern African. So, my portraits tend to represent pieces of my heritage. However, in all my works, you’ll notice that they are all painted in non-natural skin tones, which is I guess where the abstract realism style comes in.

You’ve exhibited at The Other Art Fair Los Angeles twice and have an upcoming group exhibition as part of the “It’s a vibe” show in Los Angeles [no longer on view at time of publication]. What excites you most about exhibiting your art publicly? What do you enjoy about group exhibits?

The Other Art Fair Los Angeles was one of my first big expeditions and the feedback and reception from people who really just enjoyed my work felt amazing! That sense of appreciation for something I created brings an intense feeling of joy. I ended my first year of showing my work, both exhibiting and selling a piece at Art Basel Miami. I superseded my expectations for 2022 and I’m excited for what 2023 will bring.

When did you first see yourself as an artist? What changed at that moment?

I think I’ve always seen myself as an artist, but I’ll never forget the first time that I sold a piece, as I had conflicted feelings between not wanting to let the piece go and being ecstatic that somebody was financially compensating me for one of my pieces!

How do you combine your duties as a mom and your role as an artist? Does your work require clear boundaries, or do you create in the same space?

This is still a work in progress for me. I’m still learning how to best manage my time between work and providing for my family from a corporate standpoint to also taking time for myself and enjoying creating with my children. My daughter is quite the artist herself and loves to tell people that her mommy is a famous artist.

With the current political climate, and the many threats to minorities and cultural groups around the world, do you feel that art can be a catalyst of hope, and the artist an architect for change?

I definitely think that art can be a catalyst of hope; each art piece that I create can mean something different in the eye of the person that wants to have it in their home or gallery, or it can make them feel exactly [like that] what I wanted it to say, at the time that I painted it. That has been one of the most exciting parts of being able to exhibit my work – hearing what a piece means to someone else and how seeing it may have helped them through a life trauma.

If you were in the unique position to showcase your art in a community where art is restricted, what would be your main focus in sharing your work?

If I’m creating a piece that I want to make a statement [with], my hope would be that it’s a teachable moment, and somebody walks away from the piece welcoming more diversity and inclusion in their own lives.

What kind of advice do you have for newly emerging artists to broaden the exposure of their work?

Apply for every opportunity you can, whether that is exhibiting at an art fair showing, at a gallery, or applying for grants that will help you with your website and other business opportunities.

We are curious about future projects. What are you currently working on?

My immediate goals are to finish my headdress series, featuring different headdresses from cultures from all around the world, using mixed media to give the traditional headdress a 3-D effect.

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