How do you feel African Americans impacted the arts?
African Americans have contributed a great deal to fine arts throughout time. We have successfully injected our own styles and voices into many parts of the fine art realm. Still, our presence in the fine arts community isn't as prominent as I'd like it to be. Outside of dense urban environments, you don't see too many Black fine artists. I hope to help change that.
What is your goal regarding the artwork?
My overall goal with my art is to promote social change and healing. In addition to that, I hope to play a part in uplifting the African American community. Art is able to encapsulate various realities, and the African American experience is one of many realities I am endeavoring to illustrate through my art. I wish to empower the African American community through the images I create. All too often, African Americans are typically portrayed in some type of negative or demeaning light when we are highlighted in any capacity. Through my art I intend to shatter stereotypes and depict "Black excellence". I want my art to serve as a balm to help my culture heal past and present traumas. To awaken. And to reflect not only hard truths but also highlight the best qualities of African Americans, let alone the rest of humanity.
What artist do you admire and why?
In the past, one of the artists I admired most was my mentor, John P. Sherman. His versatility, style, and voice was something I admired and tried to emulate as I started my career. Today, as I'm embarking upon the journey of becoming a professional tattoo artist, the artist I follow and admire most is Arlo DiCristina. His ability to create hyper-realistic pieces of art on skin never ceases to amaze me. He and his wife, Ryan Ashley, are world renowned tattoo artists, and their level of mastery is one I'm aspiring to achieve. They turn skin into fine art canvases.
Tell us about your book...
Fifteen years ago I was sentenced to prison for forty-five years for a string of robberies. Less than a year into that bid, I was caught conspiring to escape and placed in solitary confinement, where I ultimately spent more than two years in complete isolation. During this darkest period of my life, I began to write my memoirs. The first one, Changing Faces, which I self-published in 2012, is a cautionary tale detailing my path into the criminal world and illustrates the reverberating effects of choices. The second book, Discarded Lives, is awaiting publication and details my life behind bars, all twenty plus years of my incarceration.
What do you want people to take away from reading your book?
Both of my memoirs are meant to serve as cautionary tales and to illustrate the reverberating effects of choices. I use my vulnerability and past mistakes to help readers see the possibilities of redemption. And my hope is that everyone, no matter what walk of life they may come from, is able to see themselves in me at some point during the recounted convoluted journeys of mine. Through my writings I hope to help people see the interconnected reality that binds most humans together.
How can we follow you?
Facebook: Sean Marshall
Main website: emarshallsmith.wixsite.com/iamsean