“In her paintings, powerfully victorious nymphs metamorphose from her lines into what she calls her “Curly Girls.” They are patronesses of female self-confidence and empowerment, powerfully delicate and elegantly surreal.”
Margaretta Ryan, Ugallery
Sumner Crenshaw (born 1984) is an American surrealist and figurative painter. Her art is a minimalist, narrative styled imbued with lines and movement. Hopscotching between genres, her work builds on a variety of influences, from Salvador Dali to Shel Silverstein.
Sumner received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2006 and earned her Master of Fine Arts degree with a focus on oil painting in 2009. She has been working professionally as an artist since 2005, and has shown in galleries across the US. Her work is housed in both national and international collections. Originally hailing from Northern Vermont, Sumner relocated to Frederick, MD in 2010. In 2020, Sumner became the owner and operator of The Muse, a retail and gallery space in the heart of historic Downtown Frederick. Since 2008, she has been represented by Ugallery.
Sumner’s work, in her own words:
45 minutes: that’s how long it took me to muster the courage to pick up the phone and call a potential buyer, someone I’d known for ages. 5 years: that’s how long I hung on to a gallery’s contact information because I was too shy to send them my portfolio. Art Basel Miami: a huge art event I could’ve exhibited at, if I hadn’t have been so scared. 45 minutes, 5 years, Miami; each of these is but a fang in the mouth of my greatest monster: Anxiety. The binding which makes up my being. Since childhood I have struggled with crippling anxiety and depression, which makes the prospect of finding my way in the world, especially as an artist, deeply terrifying and almost insurmountable.
But monsters are meant to be slayed, and art has helped me to subjugate, if not slay, mine. Every episode of anxiety can become a character, a story I can portray in paint. A creature with multiple dueling limbs represents the hydra in my own head. A confident figure strutting across the canvas is the girl I hope to be one day. A dash of red, a curving line, a rushing brushstroke: all are visual metaphors that help me to find a voice that is stronger than the monster that has muzzled me for so long. Anxiety gives rise to inspiration and empowerment. This tension has been one of the guiding forces in my creative endeavors, and it has given me a valuable way to connect with viewers. We all can relate to the struggle to understand ourselves, express ourselves, and transform ourselves; there is a monster, and a hero, in each of us.
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