Sydney Shavers is an artist whose photographs, collages, films, and other visual works question established conventions and spaces of existence. In her adolescence she switched schools frequently going from one that was racially diverse to a school where she was one of a handful of black students and back again. This experience has influenced her practice in which she creates a new language, one where conventional symbolism is challenged and the viewer is left to create new associations to relate to the world. She graduated with a BFA from University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently living and working in Chicago, Illinois.
As a black woman, I experience the marginalization of both my gender and race, the two spaces for existence into which I was born. I am in a constant battle between pursuing my interests and falling into positions that were predetermined for me. The idea of the double consciousness is forever present in my world.
I form questions about the positions given to marginalized bodies in a racist and patriarchal society and the importance of this relationship in identity formation. I examine the roles in which people of color and women are allowed recognition in society and use visual language to inquire into the limits of this reality, both publicly and privately. Through art, I provide the possibility that bodies can gain autonomy and reside in a scope outside of cultural expectations.
My visual works analyze societal structures and the restrictions of gender and color. I seize the language of pop lyrics to undermine common cultural symbols and assert a new identity. I use pornographic images as source material, and through repetition, transform them into works that invite the viewer to reinterpret them, questioning their own assumptions. My goal is to appropriate images that contain Western cultural symbolism and juxtapose them with the myriad of media influences present in order to challenge what is known about our sign systems. I seek a new vocabulary separate from that of hegemonic society.