Ferrari Sheppard (b. 1985, Chicago, IL.) is an American multidisciplinary visual artist, painter, journalist, photographer, activist, and music producer. Sheppard currently lives and works in Los Angeles.
Ferrari Sheppard creates abstract and figurative works with a raw, yet powerful, hopeful, and honest intensity inspired by the real-life experiences of his youth. With an upbringing rife with the challenging, harsh realities of an early hard-knock life spent living and surviving in America, his influences are a culmination of a varied existence. Art, music, branding, as well as other tenets of popular culture, continues to play a specific role in the formation of his panoramic perspective. Sheppard obtained initial exposure to artists such as Michelangelo and Caravaggio. This discovery inspired a desire to paint in similar fashion to the old masters, and as such, he embarked on a journey to further his education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). While there, he was introduced to various alternative American art movements, and was enlightened by additional modes of creative expression.
Sheppard’s work addresses themes that live at the intersection of socio-economic identity, geopolitics, and modern-day activism, which renders him a fierce champion of independent thought. As a creator, the depth of his connection to contemporary culture is innate. He is committed to discovering new ways of unmasking and identifying societal ills, establishing him as a quintessential social expressionist of the human condition.
Sheppard achieves artistic delineation through his usage of texture, color, shape, or a lack thereof. As with Abstract Art, specifically, Abstraction speaks a language that is often difficult to articulate. Some paintings, much like the subtleties, imperfections, and dissonant blue notes applied in an improvisational style by jazz musicians, have chords running through them that are found in the process of experimentation. It is through this methodology that Sheppard not only figures out the melodic tones of life, but also acquires a deeper understanding of himself.
As is evidenced in Sheppard’s past and present works, one may be reminded of the fact that an artist’s creative output may not always be polite, easily digestible, or recognized as a grand symbol of beauty. While there is an undercurrent of darkness, Sheppard’s art evokes hope, endurance, and illumination, identifying it as a proverbial David verses Goliath.
With a consistent commitment to an expanding art practice, Sheppard continues to challenge himself to produce meaningful and dynamic work within the complex contemporary art canon.
Sheppard received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2004), as well as a Merit Award and Presidential Scholarship. His work has been commissioned and exhibited in numerous galleries, and is held not only in the collection of Yusaku Maezawa in Tokyo, but is also present in private collections throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Pakistan, and South Africa. The artist has been featured as a guest lecturer at various universities and cultural institutions across the United States, Canada and Ethiopia, including The African Union in Addis Ababa (2014), and Harvard Law (2015). In addition, a special project was conceived, as he collaborated with Grammy, Emmy, and Golden Globe-nominated rapper and actor, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), to form the producer-rapper duo, Dec 99th. The pair released their highly anticipated, self-titled debut album, December 99th exclusively on the TIDAL streaming service (2016).
With a recent relocation to Los Angeles, Sheppard continues to create new work, and is looking forward to exhibiting his first solo show on the West Coast.