Sabrina Howard is a Jackson-based visual artist and designer. Her multimedia (and multi-canvas) approach brings a boundless vitality to her painting. Stepping into her downtown loft, I was immediately captivated by the pieces adorning her walls, easels and floors. Art literally spills out of Sabrina. Nothing is cast aside. It all becomes part of the greater work – drips, rips and all.
This same philosophy drives Sabrina’s mission within the community. She sees art as a platform and device to heal, inspire, empower and unite. You can see this spirit on display in her murals around townand through her work as Creative Connector for Live. Impact. Create.
When did you realize that art was more than a pastime, that you were an “artist”?
You know, one thing about being a creative is it’s always in us. There’s always a burning desire. I don’t care what we’re doing. If we have a job that’s not “creative,” there’s something you’re going to create. You’re going to rearrange the items on your plate. You’re going to doodle on your desk. A few of us go ahead and take the challenge of being a creative by the horns and just ride it out.
There is so much energy in these pieces, it’s like you can’t contain it. They feel alive. Do they grow as you’re working on them?
There is some magic that happens when I’m creating. You don’t know what’s going to happen. It happens though. It always happens. Things happen once the creation starts. There are pieces where people have shown up, if that makes any sense. It’s like you’re staring at the floor or some wallpaper, and you’re like is that a face? Is that a person? I mean, I’ve seen whole faces appear in some of my pieces. Or I’ll leave it, let it sit and come back. And then I realize something else. Those little intricacies and things that happen, I would call them spiritual.
You have a signature style. Was there a point when you landed on that and realized this is me? Or is that just how it comes out of you?
As we evolve as creators, we do create what we call our own style – and some artists never get there. One thing that I say is, paint what’s comfortable and then that’s your style. If it feels too difficult to go in one direction, you know, maybe don’t go there. Find a comfortable way to get to your final piece.
Charlie Palmer is one of my favorite artists. I wouldn’t call him a mentor, but I still keep in touch with him. One thing that he said is that your art should change the temperature of the room. You should get a feeling when you walk in.
When I create, I typically start with a background. Some of the pieces that you see have drips on them. These are live pieces or either they started as live paintings, meaning I did a two-to-three hour painting in front of a live audience. Nina started as a live piece. That’s why I had so much energy. There’s a lot of rework there. The reason that the drips are there is I’m a re-purposer. A couple of times I’ve shown up to events and I didn’t have my palette or anything to squeeze my paint on. So I started squeezing the paint directly on to my work area. Then I take my brush and I dip it in the paint and I stroke with it. Then I clean my brush on my canvas. But I just don’t clean my brush. I make other shapes.
So you see a definite style. I see process.
What inspires you?
What inspires me now is being able to wake up and breathe and be in a space where I’m free to create as often as I like.
Another Jackson artist, Talamieka Brice, described my work as creating beauty out of chaos. I feel that’s how I am existing through life right now. My life is so chaotic, but I smile and joke my way through all of it. Painting is one of the best stress relievers, you know? It unlocks things in your head when you’re doing it. It just creates space.
I’m also inspired by the other creatives that I see. It warms my heart to see everybody expressing themselves with everything that’s going on in the world, in our state and in our city. I just love to see it. And I just kind of smile like, “Yes! Yes!” You know, we have the power now. The creatives have the power because people are looking to us to help them understand what’s happening.
They don’t know that they’re looking to us for that, but someone has to explain it, you know. Just like cave paintings. Thousands of years from now, there’ll be other types of media we can go to, but it’s going to be those paintings, those photos, those other images that’s going to really give people the feeling of what happened. ‘Cause we can talk about it all day. But how did that feel?
See more of Sabrina’s art: sabrinahoward.com
Learn more about her work: liveimpactcreate.com