DPS Proud – Women’s History Month Celebrates Sydney James

Her work can be seen in every corner of the city.  She is Detroit’s own; the artist behind the portraits and murals of Black faces on massive spaces.  Graduating from Cass Technical High’s Commercial Arts program in 1997, she continued her education at Center for Creative Studies graduating in 2001 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree.  After seven years in Los Angeles, she returned home in 2011, to the place she loves, to work on big public art pieces, ‘the perfect canvas’, she says.

‘Cass taught me what I need to know now, to do what I do’.  She is referring to systems and processes, how to plan out her projects and formulate ideas.  Her first mural was done at age 15 and her first billboard at age 16.  She credits Cass’ Robert Smith and Marian Stephens, who headed up the Commercial Arts program during her time there.  Sydney says she always had 5-8 art teachers, with multi-level rigorous class offerings.  Her teachers were always creating outside classroom opportunities for students.  At 17, she had an oil painting class at Wayne State University with artist, muralist Hubert Massey.  Her most proud moment to date, wasn’t being recognized by numerous art organizations and foundations, but was when a 14 year old girl from Worcester, Massachusetts emailed her to say that Sydney was her inspiration and that she plans on being a successful professional artist and muralist, despite family challenges and living in a less-than-ideal neighborhood.  Sydney James’ work can be found from Ghana to Hawaii and places in between.  Her advice to students:

  • Work hard
  • Be in the right circles
  • Be a good person
  • Be good to others 

…and there will be endless possibilities

We celebrate Sydney James who undoubtedly has a future with endless possibilities. 

DPS Proud!