In a recent Facebook post, alongside a photograph of an anonymous rice field in South Carolina, the artist Sheldon Scott wrote:
Born in Pawley’s Island, SC, Sheldon Scott was immersed in and influenced by the oral traditions and griot (storytelling) cultures of the Gullah/Geechee people. Pulling from the personal, familiar, and ancestral, Scott’s creative career began formally as a storyteller. As a distinct form of artistic expression, storytelling uses spoken words, along with actions related to spoken language including vocalization, and sometimes gesture/physical movement to present a narrative and to encourage the active imagination and interaction from the audience of listeners.
For 10 years Scott developed and crafted a uniquely personal, conversational voice through storytelling. Pulling from his Gullah/Geechee cultural heritage Scott has created for himself a creole, hybridized artistic practice. His recent works combine personal narrative, myth and folklore, with natural and fabricated forms in time-based, durational, performative installations, in sculptures and in photography. This pidgin language that Scott incorporates as an artist and storyteller, pulls from a variety of sources, allows him to creatively and subtly explore highly charged topics. Through his visual works, Scott directly addresses issues related to the intersections of economics, sexuality, and race, while challenging ideals of exceptionality in the black male form and function.
Maya Angelou had stated: “There is no greater burden than carrying an untold story.” We use stories to share our histories, and to pass knowledge on from generation to generation.
Through his carefully crafted narratives, Scott provides an empathetic note which resonates quietly but deeply, moving us towards more meaningful, lingering connection to characters previously unknown to us. We do see them out there, and that unravels our understanding, and throws our abductive reasoning out of alignment. Much as he is able to transform and humanize a simple image of a rice field with a caption, Scott is able to tap into our deeper imagination and understanding. As a storyteller and as an artist, Scott undeniably invokes deep emotions of vulnerability and empathy, coupled with strength, resilience and durability.