What does it mean to overcome a challenge to you? Nothing compares to the relief and achievement felt when you push yourself to your limit and leave a project a better person than when you started. Sabrina Shumaker, a multidisciplinary artist based in Orlando, Florida, is no stranger to such challenges. From murals to oil paintings to sculptures, she tells her story of how she came to love art as a career and the challenges she faced to make it happen.
Sabrina grew up around generations of artists in her family. Born in Texas in 1993, she looked up to her grandfather as an early inspiration for seeking out art as a career. She visited his studio occasionally while growing up, seeing the masses of projects he would work on. She was also surrounded by her father’s work and, as a result, picked up drawing figures early in her childhood. That discovery of her love of figure-centric art was the first step in her journey as an artist.Sabrina grew up around generations of artists in her family. Born in Texas in 1993, she looked up to her grandfather as an early inspiration for seeking out art as a career.
She visited his studio occasionally while growing up, seeing the masses of projects he would work on. She was also surrounded by her father’s work and, as a result, picked up drawing figures early in her childhood. That discovery of her love of figure-centric art was the first step in her journey as an artist.
However, a significant concern for her when pursuing a career in art was financial stability. At the time, she was living with her now ex-boyfriend, and his family agreed to let her stay there for free on the condition that she went to university. Because of this, Shumaker learned to balance her love for art with pursuing a degree in elementary education. As much as she loved art at the time, she felt like she could make her way by fostering her love of teaching into a stable job. However, as school progressed, she found herself rushing her studies to carve out more and more time to pursue her passions. As she shadowed more teachers, she learned how far removed the creative process had become from the classroom. This continued until she met an artist from Orlando while on a cruise—a person who turned their own passion for art into a flourishing career and became a mentor for her to learn to do the same. This was a turning point in her view of the arts, and she began her self-taught journey to turn our passion into a career.
Sabrina focuses her creativity across multiple mediums, expressing herself through murals, sculptures, and oil paintings. Part of what drew Sabrina to different mediums was the various emotions that the creative process evokes. When working on murals, much of the time, it is a collective effort with multiple creative minds. The process of painting the mural is grueling, with the entire process taking place outside, sometimes in the dead heat of summer, covered in dirt, sweat, and paint, physically and emotionally giving it her all to bring the piece to life. However, more constraints come with these outdoor canvases, as oftentimes it includes working against inclement weather and fitting an image to a fixed dimension. In addition, when working on someone else’s project, creativity is redirected to elevate the lead artist’s vision above all. Even still, she finds the catharsis following a completed group effort unlike any other, celebrating with a group of artists for the finished product.
When working with sculpture in her studio, Sabrina finds the challenges she faces to be more mental. The work in her studio is more personal, leaving her isolated with her thoughts as she works on a project. That kind of setting is where perfectionism flourishes, hyperfixating upon every last detail and then going back to change things after calling a piece “complete.” Where one day in the studio could bring lots of progress with a sculpture and leave her feeling good about the direction it is taking, the next day might be changing all the progress that was made the day before. The art in her studio constantly morphs and changes, tackling the problem of learning when to stop changing everything in a piece. At the end of a sculpture’s creation there is still that moment of celebration and catharsis, but it is not a celebration of overcoming challenges with a group of people—it is the celebration of overcoming challenges within herself.
While much of her newer work focuses more on figures and nature, her early work explored themes of religion. She created these works during a point in her life when she was challenging a lot of her beliefs from the people she surrounded herself with. Whether she was around devout religious individuals or those who leaned more atheist or anti-theist, those works echoed her self-reflection on religion. Since then, religion does not weigh heavy in her career as a source of symbolism, but she still acknowledges the importance of the place those works came from in her development as an artist and person.
When showing her work to others, she prefers to elevate the pieces she more recently completed. With the process and results fresher in her mind, she is more comfortable with speaking about them in their entirety. Her earlier projects still hold their ground, but sometimes an artwork becomes so early on in an artist’s career that it is almost like a different person created it.
Some of Sabrina’s earlier sculptures explore the concept of rebirth through the use of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of fixing pottery by putting the pieces back together and filling the cracks with gold. The style represents how broken and discarded things can be put back together with care and attention to be turned into something new, a work of art arising from the shards of the past while still celebrating those moments that cause us to break. It serves as a reminder that while we may never know what the future holds for us, our plans and ambitions may get shattered along the way. Whether those pieces lead to a more stunning sculpture or a more wholesome career path, the first step is picking up the pieces to create something more beautiful. While this was a technique she used in her earlier work, Sabrina hopes to bring it back again someday, further elevating this practice as a facet of her journey as a creative.
Overall, Sabrina’s story serves as an example of how success and wholesomeness are possible in the art world and how the work leads to fulfilling moments of celebration, whether with other artists giving it their all to complete a mural or with herself as she navigates challenges in her studio. Her words are as inspiring as the pieces she creates—every mural, sculpture, and oil painting reflects the challenges she faces during the creative process for the piece and her journey as a creative soul altogether. She spoke of her journey of overcoming challenges in art and coming to realize her full self through our lovely conversation, and you will leave any interaction with her pieces inspired to challenge yourself as well.
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