Back to Exhibitions Marrow Gallery

Shara Mays, Color Sanctuary

Nov 1 — Dec 16, 2023

Color Sanctuary

Shara Mays

Nov 1 – Dec 16, 2023

Reception: November 4th, 5-7pm        


SAN FRANCISCO – Marrow Gallery presents “Color Sanctuary,” new works from Oakland based Shara Mays. These works were initially sparked by a vintage family photograph from the 1950’s, capturing Mays’ father as a young child in North Carolina. The image portrays him being held by an elder cousin, flanked by two other cousins. Southern thickets of bushes envelop them all. Despite the era’s reality for Black children, particularly young Black boys, the artist found solace in this family photo because it conjures feelings of safety and of a sanctuary.


In gestural and intimate moments of expression, Shara Mays creates visual histories that outline and lay bare her work as a contemporary black artist. As she explores color, the artist represents generational and cultural ideologies of the black experience. The current body of work is a necessary reclaiming of space and access to the transformative aspect of surrounding oneself in the natural environment. For the audience, the complexities of race and visual language are analogous; the tangle and movement of paint as an expression of freedom, beauty and growth.  Upon viewing these large scale paintings (72×60”) the viewer is transported in a way that is reminiscent of the Japanese concept of “Forest Bathing”, an immersive and meditative experience, where one is enveloped in the surrounding flora.  


About Shara Mays:

Shara Mays (she/her) is an African-American visual artist who creates paintings which take the shape and form of both landscape and intuitive figuration. Her works are performances of both subconscious motions and are in constant conversation with the natural world seen throughout Northern California. Originally from Princeville, North Carolina, her art practice represents an evolution of narrative, from a focus on literal, southern landscapes, and family struggles, to chasing freedom through the act of painting. She received her BFA degree from The Corcoran College of Art and Design at George Washington University, and her MFA in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute. Recent shows include solo shows at Mehari Sequar in Washington, DC and Chandran Gallery in San Francisco.  Select group shows include LatchKey Gallery in New York, Green Family Art Foundation in Dallas, and the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Residencies include the Vermont Studio Center, Meta Open Arts, and the Headlands Center for the Arts. Her work is included in both public and private collections, including the International African American Museum, the Green Family Art Foundation, and Art in Embassies.


Check gallery website for hours and additional info