Sharde Hickenbottom

Sharde Hickenbottom is interested in the developments of photography and portraiture in the 21st century. Portraiture has always been used to record the lives of individuals and families. Sharde wants to start a series that combines sculpture and portraiture. The sculptures will emulate a specific type of photographic process. She will use a variety of color combinations, fabrics, silicone and hair to construct the sculptures. The photograph will play an essential role in the sculpting process because Hickenbottom wants them to read as photographic portraits. She wants to make portraits that show the inner essence of those closest to her and strangers alike.

The new ways people are taking pictures of themselves and others is very exciting. The privilege associated with portraiture has been dilapidating ever since the beginning of the 19th century. Photographs are lasting representations of the kind of people we are. The ever-changing nature of photographic technology has inspired Sharde to explore image making through two different processes. Sculpting allows Sharde to incorporate her body into the work. The desire for her hands to be implicated in the work is an evolving obsession.

Ultimately, Hickenbottom wants to make portraits of people of color because she feels that they have been misrepresented in the mainstream media. Visually we have seen black men and women vilified, perpetually domesticated, overtly-sexualized, or maimed. Growing up, in America, that was a constant occurrence in mainstream media across the broad. From childhood, Sharde knew that there had to be more to black and brown people than that. Coming out of college she wanted to switch gears in her studio from concentrating on feelings of alienation to talking about seduction, joy, grace, and sensuality. These recent works are about exploring the complexities of people of color through portraiture.

Sharde’s artwork asserts the importance of more diverse representation of black culture and beauty in American mainstream media. She uses photographic portraits as her main source material to make sculptures of people of color. Some of her inspirations are the Pop Art era, black culture, and American history.

Sharde was born in Morristown, New Jersey. In 2009 and 2010, still in high school, she competed in the local ACT-SO competition and won first place in the photography category. She obtained her B.F.A from Rutgers University. While at Rutgers, Sharde received the Paul Robeson Emerging Young Artist Award for outstanding achievement in Visual Arts. She has shown her own work and curated a group show at Mason Gross gallery in New Brunswick, New Jersey.