Artist Sylvia Sykes Selected for BIPOC+ Exhibition at Summit Artspace

Akron, OHIO (January 9, 2024) — Akron-native and painter Sylvia Sykes was recently selected by jurors Darius Steward and Gwen Waight for Summit Artspace’s 3rd annual solo exhibition for BIPOC+ (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists. Sykes’ exhibition, The Aunties, will be on view from April 5-June 15, 2024 in Summit Artspace’s Horizon Gallery. 

Summit Artspace is committed to exploring the many ways in which local BIPOC+ artists reflect and influence our communities through their art. Each year, the selected artist receives a $1,000 stipend to support the creation of a solo exhibition at Summit Artspace. 

Sykes is a portrait artist whose skillful hand dances across acrylic, oil, and digital mediums. Her focus often rests on African American subjects, community narratives, and the strength of women, brought to life through caricature and realism. 

“From the moment I saw Sylvia’s submission, I was struck by the composition, color choices, and overall painting skills that the artwork showcased,” remarked Steward. “I found her concept refreshing, extremely creative, and much needed in contemporary art. I know Sylvia’s painting style and sensitivity to the subject matter will create a lovely show and I can’t wait to see it.”

Sykes’ exhibition will demonstrate the importance of the role of aunties in Black and Brown communities. “When your parents need help, especially from a feminine perspective, the aunties are often called first,” Sykes explains. “The Aunties will serve as diverse examples of what womanhood looks like, which is crucial in a world where the identities of Black women are often placed in small boxes.”  Sykes will create a group of paintings that highlight what “auntie” means by gathering responses from people in the community about their most cherished impression, memory, or insight from an auntie. 

Through the exhibition, she wants to draw attention to and appreciation for the Black family structure. Sykes says, “I believe the auntie figure became so prominent in our culture because the Black family had to adapt its figureheads to what was available. So many historical events tore apart the traditional nuclear African American family and, as we do in many deprived situations, we improvised and made new structures that protected our growth.” Aunties also serve as a vital example of strong women in leadership.  

The annual BIPOC+ exhibition is one way Summit Artspace seeks to actively undo systems of oppression and domination present in the art world. The show and stipend for the selected artist is supported in part by Akron Community Foundation’s Vernon D. Odom Fund, Peg’s Foundation, and the Lehner Family Fund.  


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About Summit Artspace: Summit Artspace is a nonprofit arts organization connecting artists and artist-serving organizations to the resources they need to thrive professionally, creatively, and financially. It provides artist studios, exhibitions, and programs in Summit County and serves as a vital place for the public to engage with the creative community. Summit Artspace is located at 140 East Market Street in Akron, Ohio. Public hours are Fridays from noon – 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Summit Artspace is supported by The County of Summit, Ohio Arts Council, GAR Foundation, Akron Community Foundation, Peg’s Foundation, Lehner Family Foundation and The Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation. For more information, visit the Summit Artspace website or call (330) 376-8480. 

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Natalie Patrick

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