Sacramento Art History Consortium’s Featured Artist: Shonna McDaniels

by Bree Garcia


SMD:  My goal as an artist is to share the strength and majesty of ancient African culture via beautiful paintings, mixed media, clay pottery and Styrofoam.


SAHC: Can you give us a brief description of your creative process? What is your preferred medium and style?

SMD: I believe my African ancestors work through my fingers to create each brush stroke or art sculpture. My creative process generally begins with a large canvas. Paintings of women with dark blue hues, purple and brown skin tones stimulates love, passion, beauty and hope as my hands move across the canvas. My hands are driven by a spiritual force connected to the motherland. The spiritual essence from my ancestors shines through. It’s a humbling experience. My chosen medium is oil paint but I also work in pastels, charcoal, acrylic, water color, mix media utilizing fabric, beads and other recycled materials.


SAHC: As a Sacramento artist what responsibilities do you believe that you have to the local and the global community?

SMD: My purpose as an artist is to leave a legacy for future artist. I want young black girls and boys to look at my art and experience something of worth, pride and value. For this reason I strive to have the essence of my work reflect dignity, strength and beauty of each subject that I present. The education of youth for me is very important and I have spent a large part of my career as an artist educating youth. I feel today, more than ever, that art is needed by young people as a forum for safe expression, communication, exploration, imagination, cultural and historical understanding.  Art is an essential, encompassing life element that has the ability to produce an environment with a productive, cultural exchange of ideas. In addition, art promotes acquisition of intellectual skills in literature, science, and math. Indeed, art should be a priority in human development.  Art has the ability to inspire youth to be creative, think outside the box and use their skills to beautify their environment.


SAHC: What advice do you have for emerging artists, or those pursuing a career in the arts?

SMD: First of all, my advice to emerging artists is to always be true to whom you are as a human being and everything else will fall into place. Secondly, always be a student of art and never except the idea that you are not.


SAHC: Who are some of your favorite Sacramento Artists, and why?

SMD:  My favorite Sacramento Artist can’t be narrowed to just one artist.. I have many favorites and most of them are my close circle of friends that I have worked with for 10 or more years. This list is as follows: Daphne Burgess, John King, GOS, Kanika Marshall, Joe Pollakoff, Marshall Bailey, Debra Ledet, Alpha Bruton, Frank Blackwell, Jose Lott, Anthony Padilla,David Lonbenber and Akinsaya Kambon. These individuals have all played a special role in my life and have inspired and nurtured me in my journey as an Artist.


SAHC: Where are some of your favorite Art/ Art History resources found?

SMD: My favorite online resource is Black Art in America. Additionally, I have a love for any Art History books, documentaries or magazines that provide information on the Harlem Renaissance. This is the period in history when black artist were accomplishing greatness in a time that defied all odds.  They had the courage to uplift themselves and achieve greatness. This period of Art history has always inspired me and prompted me to educate the children and youth about a special era in our history.


SAHC: Is there anything else about the arts here in Sacramento that you would like share with our reader?

SMD: I feel Art in Sacramento should reflect more diversity. I would love to see more murals and life size sculptures which reflect the legacy and the hard work that African people embarked on to help build our communities and the nation at large. I feel youth would be more inspired and uplifted if they were inspired by public art in their communities that reflects their image.


SAHC:Where can your work be viewed, or found online?

SMD: One can just type in my name Shonna McDaniels or visit the Sojo Museum at 2251 Florin rd or the Sojo website at