Sierra Hamilton explores internal conflict in her art

March 29, 2023

Sierra Hamilton explores internal conflict in her art

Collage of painted faces and words on cardboard

In honor of Women’s History Month, Urban Arts Space will highlight artwork created by our talented interns. In these personal interviews, you can learn about where their creativity all started and what inspires them to create art. 

Sierra Hamilton is a fourth-year Bachelor of Arts student with a double minor in Design Thinking and Arts Entrepreneurship. She is also an Exhibitions Intern with Urban Arts Space.

Multimedia art of a blue head on cardboard


Which art area of study interests you most?

Currently, I would say screen printing and oil painting interest me most; screen printing kind of combines the two. You have to draw, and then you have to choose your color, which I enjoy. I also find oil painting to be very calming.


Are there any art movements that interest you?

I don’t know if you would consider this a movement, but I would say whatever is going on in the contemporary art world right now, minus AI—I’m not a fan of that. Contemporary art just feels real because it shows how people are interested in doing whatever they feel connected to. It reminds me more of a story that people are trying to tell through their art.


When did you start creating art?

Since I was a little kid. My mom was a creative as well, and she has always been a big inspiration and influence for me pursuing art at a higher level of education. I would always draw everything I could see when I was little. In middle and high school, I moved to performing arts, but that was not for me. I didn’t want my presence to be the art, so I moved into traditional art my freshman year of college.

A person painted in blue covering their face with their hands on cardboard

What inspires you to create art?

I’m still trying to figure this out for myself. I would say that art as a means of healing from mental health and trauma—and as a way to cope with day-to-day life—is really inspirational to me. I also find that this is a theme in a lot of my pieces. I would also say just experimenting or creating to see what you can make can be inspirational, and I have moved this into installation-based work.

I also face an internal struggle with the expectation of being a Black female artist. It definitely feels like a struggle sometimes because I want to make art that’s about my identity, but at the same time it feels very expected. It also doesn’t feel true to myself at times. Essentially, I don’t want to feel like an advocate, and I just want my art to be whatever I feel like making. Right now, it’s just about my mental health and trying to heal as an individual instead of speaking or being a representation of a collective. I feel it’s important to voice these struggles because they have influenced my studio and creative practice. Overall, although I am proud of my identity, I don’t want it to be all that I am. When you look at me, you already perceive me as a Black female, so I use my art to subvert that sometimes.


Can you provide a piece of artwork you created and walk me through the story behind it?

Essentially, this is an installation that shows how I perceive myself and how I’m also afraid of what people think of me. These blue figures without faces and the hands represent anonymous thoughts or people who don’t mean anything, but I’m thinking about how they perceive my work, which can be emotionally draining. Like my personal evolution, Me Against Myself layers different mediums and incorporates found objects, such as cardboard and fabric, to build a detailed and textured piece. I leave the internal threads of the cardboard exposed to portray vulnerability—a vulnerability that comes with the subject matter of my work, an uncovering of my struggle with mental health, and the discovery of my role as an artist.

Multimedia collage of faces and words

Artist Statement:

Me Against Myself

cardboard, scrap fabric, oil pastels, acrylic paint, post-it notes, pen, Posca markers, embroidery hoops and floss, and torn magazine pages


My work demonstrates the comfort that arises from experimenting with various techniques and means of creating—a visualization of how my upbringing has impacted my process. Collaging, specifically through installation and mixed media applications, is a systematic development of my current practice. Every place I’ve lived, every connection I’ve experienced, and every learning moment I’ve grown from have morphed me into the person I am today, and I seek to represent that through my work.

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