Bold, expressionistic and inspiring – that’s how Sherridean Skeete, artist, singer, entrepreneur, teacher and mother describes her creative style. The quality of her artistic talent is evidenced by the numerous competitions she’s won and the opportunities she’s had to display her work on the local and international levels. As a teacher, her love of sharing knowledge is unparalleled, whether she’s working with students at Harrison College where she heads the Art and Music Department or mentoring other teachers as part of the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College induction course. A versatile go-getter, Sherridean is always looking for new ways to uplift and motivate others. In this feature, the single mother of two shares her love of art, her passion for teaching and the joys of motherhood.
Q & A Exclusive
Q: First of all, who is Sherridean?
A: I’m a child of God. My whole understanding of myself is rooted on God’s grace and his love and on the fact that he made me to be a blessing so that I can extend that blessing to others. From early I realised that God endowed me with the gifts of art and singing. I create through a wide range of art forms – painting, drawing and sculpture and I’m also an art educator. When I was 18 I was challenged to spend time with God and that’s when I knew I would become an art teacher and have my own art business.
Q: Tell us about your business and the products/services you offer.
A: My business, Creative Art Well, started officially on January 12th 2015. At that time my life had gone through a dramatic change. I was a single mother of two and I was looking to supplement my income and still be a blessing through it. I asked the Lord for a name and Creative Art Well is what came to me. Under Creative Art Well, I have an art education programme where I give classes to students who cannot do art at secondary school because of timetable clashes and I also mentor other artists. There is an entertainment side called Paint Expression which is an inspirational session where I demonstrate art technique and assist persons in creating their own work.
Q: What role does an artist have in society and how do you fulfil that role?
A: I think the role of an artist is to inspire, inform, educate and connect with society. You’re almost like a glue; you hold things together. I saw this happening during the COVID-19 lockdown period when m
any people were feeling depressed. I switched the Paint Expression to an online forum, using art to make persons feel more encouraged and relaxed. Also, during the lockdown, I was twice invited to take part in an international Art Impact exhibition where again art was being used to inspire persons. My work was exhibited with that of artists from Brazil, Spain, the United States and France.
Art has a life and it has the ability to do so much. More persons are invested in art internationally and it has taken off in a stronger way because people are recognising the importance of art and the therapy behind it. As an art educator, my role is to give persons the tools to enter the conversation about art and its relevance, as well as fine tune those who are already speaking but want to be more professional and confident in their approach.
Q: What was one of the most memorable responses to one of your pieces?
A: In 2018 I had an exhibition at Art’s Art which included a painting entitled “Renewing the Mind”. It is an abstract, but you can recognise a human form looking up, with rays of energy coming out. A guy was looking at the painting and he said he didn’t really like abstracts because he finds it hard to connect with them. So I explained the meaning behind the painting and he was so overcome. He couldn’t say a word; the tears just started to pour. Later he said the painting encouraged him so much now that he understood it. That’s one of the most memorable moments that keeps me going because even though I am creating art to have income, I still want persons to leave with a message, something that can connect with them in their hearts and vibrate into their spaces.
Q: What would your dream project be?
A: My dream project really would be to release a music album. I released a song last year in January called “You’re always there” and I enjoyed the responses to that song. It’s an inspirational song and one listener told me that he could listen to it every day. Even some of my students have said that it encourages them. So it’s my dream to release my music and art in a way that will really minister to persons in a global way.
Q: As a Teacher How do you motivate your students?
A: The students say it’s just my personality. It shows that I care about art and I care about them. Sometimes they would ask why I stay with teaching, because they think I could be out in the world making money and getting rich. However, I tell them it is because the Lord told me that teaching is one of my callings and I’m enjoying it. So I bring all of my life experiences and achievements into the classroom and I try to connect what’s going on in the classroom to what’s happening at the national and global level.
As a result I’ve had the pleasure of students becoming graphic designers, fashion designers, interior designers and art restorers and our Art Department has won NIFCA incentive awards. I’ve had students who gained national scholarships with art as one of the subjects. So I share all of this with them, from first form going right up and help them to see the possibilities.
Q: Is there a particular achievement that you’re most proud of?
A: My greatest achievement was to hear two times “mummy”. My two children - the first is my daughter Njeri and then my son Ngozi - these two have been a bundle of joy. Sometimes when a mother becomes single the children become the husband and that’s not the case here because I want them to be children. It has been such an encouragement to watch them grow and develop and come into their own persons. That is my greatest joy. I just love them!
Q: Advice for parents who have concerns about online learning.
A: Online learning is not easy because it can be mentally draining. However, as parents we have to pay attention to how they’re progressing and make sure they take short breaks. When classes are finished let them move away from the computer. With my own children, on evenings and weekends I take them to the beach where they can relax their mind. It is also important to dialogue with the school in a supportive way and give suggestions where possible to ensure a good outcome for the children.
Q: Advice for single parents trying to balance work and home life.
A: As single parents with careers what we’re doing in business is very important and the children will benefit from it, but at the end of the day children really want to know that we’re there for them and that we love them. So no matter how busy our schedules, we must make it a point to connect with them in a meaningful way and talk to them. It is very important that we don’t lose that connection. Children grow up quickly so try to make time for family.
Q: Share with us a little known fact about you.
A: At heart, I’m a shy person but I know when I’m in the element I just flow because that is what’s needed. But when I come out of that capacity I’m just shy. I also know that sometimes I can come across very serious but I love to laugh. Once I feel comfortable in the environment I can just be myself. In my life, God has just outdone me and I continue to be grateful for what he is doing.
Sherridean’s Parent Tale
My last memorable moment was Christmas. The children didn’t have funds to buy a gift, but on the day my son made breakfast and they presented me with a bottle of Peardrax, a card, and a gift box my daughter had made. She told me all I had to do was pull out one “gift” on any day and whatever it says she would do. So I had unlimited hugs, a kiss, a back massage, foot massage, breakfast and laundry, to name a few. So between the two of them, that’s what I had and I was so touched but that’s the kind of children they are. I’m very proud of them and thankful to God for them because as a single mother with many responsibilities they’ve made it all worthwhile.