Shaina McCoy is an artist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is known for portraiture that references family photographs: “Heritage is important to me when it comes to my process and everything I do with my painting and the things I present to the world”, she said in this profile.
Shaina’s style is distinct. You could describe it as a modern version of Impressionism: the faces of her subjects are blank, save for the texture of intentional brush strokes; oil paint is sculpted to create details such as a pearl, a curl, a hair clip, or a print. For her own self-portraits she often paints on lace.
If you follow her on Instagram (@wallflowermccoy) you may find her mixing her oil paints: mint green for an aunt’s dress, lavender for a baby’s clothes, a muted rose for a calico print, or rich browns that are as tactile as skin.
When I approached Shaina about sharing her art, she gracefully agreed. It would be simplistic to say that her city is going through a difficult time.
In the past month, we have witnessed two racially charged murders of black men. Breonna Taylor’s murder in March was equally heartbreaking. Without awareness, the collective outrage of injustice would not exist. However, to see this type of violence over and over again, year after year, without any type of reform to prevent it from happening again is traumatic.
In a feature in the most recent issue of Art Papers (Art of the New Civil Rights Era), writer Tyra Seals wrote: “Shaina McCoy’s art portrays the resilience of Black families that is rarely publicized to the same degree as Black suffering brutalization, and death.”
This is true and disconcerting. More than ever, I have realized how important it is for me to seek out examples of resilience and optimism in the arts and history.
It would be naïve to believe that staying inspired, posting on Instagram, or attending a protest will solve racism and police brutality, but it is a start. Having a vision of what a world looks like without racism and all the other isms is essential.