Dr. Schroeder Cherry, a native of Washington, DC, is now a Baltimore-based artist and 2019 Sondheim competition finalist who captures everyday scenes of African American life, often set in barbershops and utilizing repurposed materials. He has worked in seven museums across the US, including The Art Institute of Chicago; Smithsonian Institution’s Anacostia Museum; Studio Museum of Harlem; J.Paul Getty Museum; The Baltimore Museum of Art; and Maryland Historical Society. He has held senior grantmaker positions at Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Foundation, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, first as Deputy Director of Museums, and later Counselor to the Director. He currently teaches museum studies at Morgan State University.
My art works are open-ended narratives inspired by travel, music, literature, folklore, and everyday events. Mixed-media assemblage paintings on wood often incorporate discarded objects. Keys and locks represent tools of access. Watermelon slices refute negative stereotypes by representing positive aspects of the African diaspora. Glass shards, metal, buttons, playing cards—all become part of the materials telling a story.
The works are open ended because there is no one story; viewers bring their own experiences to each piece. I often make art in series. This is allows me to explore an idea in depth and play with variations of a theme.
The Barbershop Series is inspired by those places where men gather to get shaves and their hair cut. While waiting to be serviced, and later in the chair, customers share an environment ripe with conversation, political views, and perspectives on everyday events. Some men visit their shop weekly or every other week, making it a communal space for voice. Works in this exhibition were inspired by visits to barbershops in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C.