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Queens Artist Inspired by Borough Life Wins Prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant

--Recent Queens College Grad and Richmond Hill H.S. Art Teacher

Gets Ideas From Her Daily Bus and Subway Commute--

FLUSHING, NY, June 16, 2011—Kimberly Sheridan, a February 2011 graduate of Queens College’s MFA program who teaches art at Richmond Hill High School, is one of only 15 recipients nationwide of a prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA grant. The award is given annually to help outstanding painters and sculptors graduating from MFA programs to advance in their artistic careers and more easily transition from academic to professional studio work.

“I am excited, grateful and thankful for this award,” says Sheridan. “As artists, we make art because we have to—regardless of whether we receive recognition—so to have this validation is significant and deeply inspiring.”

Sheridan, a resident of Rego Park, is motivated by the sights she sees on her daily commute by bus and subway to and from work during which, she says, “art and life merge seamlessly.” Growing up in Merrick, Long Island, she remembers how driving was the preferred mode of transportation but thinks of how much she might miss now if it were not for her immersion in the neighborhoods through which she travels. In particular, her work has come to reflect the city’s “street furniture.” On walks home along Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, especially on rainy nights, she finds inspiration in the dark form of garbage cans grouped together with a lone object, such as an umbrella, protruding from it. A recent series on antiquated city fire alarm call boxes combines her interest in “street furniture” and New York City “relics,” and is a tribute to her father’s 47 years of service as a volunteer fireman.


 Overstuffed Can

Early in her career, Sheridan would create models from which she would develop her paintings. As time went on, and with encouragement from her Queens College professors, she began to realize that she was making sculpture and so began working in both mediums separately. Sheridan calls it “extraordinarily freeing to make sculpture and paint in oil, without having the two relying on each other in my work.” Of her time at Queens College, she recalls creative and accessible professors who provided “a diverse learning environment,” and “the absolutely amazing studio space.” Sheridan will continue to teach art and use the grant towards acquiring her own studio where she can sculpt—a “more playful” approach to art than she has experienced with oil painting. 

Sheridan has exhibited her work at Flushing Town Hall; Fountain Art Fair at Pier 66 in New York City; Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs in Queens, and most recently, at FIGMENT on Governors Island, an annual event and exhibition for emerging artists across several different disciplines. Through the Joan Mitchell Foundation grant, she will participate in 2012 in a group exhibition of grant recipients’ work. Sheridan holds an MFA in Drawing and Painting from Queens College, an MA in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a BS in Studio Art from New York University. View a partial portfolio of her work (as Kim Babcock).
The Joan Mitchell Foundation was established in 1993 following the death of celebrated American abstract artist Joan Mitchell. The foundation strives to fulfill Mitchell’s ambitions to aid and assist the needs of contemporary artists and to demonstrate that painting and sculpture are significant cultural necessities. To date, it has awarded 177 MFA grants nationwide in recognition of artistic quality to recipients nominated by the academic art community. Additional programs undertaken by the Mitchell foundation include free art classes for New York City youth, an annual grant to painters and sculptors, and grants to artists and arts communities in need of emergency support after a disaster.

The Queens College Art Department offers an advanced degree in Master of Fine Arts (MFA) as well as a Master of Arts in Art History (MA). Both the graduate and undergraduate art programs are well-grounded within the framework of a liberal arts curriculum.


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