Shaina McCoy

Shaina McCoy, Stuntin’ Like My Daddy, 2017, Oil on canvas, 36.5 x 48.6 inches [courtesy of the artist and Ever Gold [Projects], San Francisco, CA]

Shaina McCoy is a Minneapolis, MN–based artist whose deeply textured paintings regularly depict Black children, families, and social scenes. McCoy began painting during high school at the Perpich Center for Arts in Education in Golden Valley, MN. Her work has since been included in multiple group exhibitions. In her solo exhibition, A Family Affair at Ever Gold [Projects] in 2019, McCoy transformed personal family photographs into large-scale paintings that feature her signature thick, shiny brush strokes and largely nondescript faces. McCoy’s technique makes her figures simultaneously familiar and anonymous—she provides viewers with snippets of details reminiscent of warmth, safety, and tenderness.

State-sanctioned violence against Black individuals threatens the very foundation of their families in blatant, wrenching ways. Eric Garner’s killing at the hands of New York City police in 2014 is one marker of this travail, the effects of which reverberated through the public grief of his children. His daughter Erica Garner became a dedicated organizer for police reform, and she died after a heart attack at just 27 years old. More recently, the October 2019 killing of Atatiana Jefferson in Fort Worth, TX, and the passing of her father from a heart attack just a month later constitute another tragic signifier of how the fabric of marginalized families continues to be laced with trauma and irreparable damage. McCoy’s paintings reenact a simple but necessary intimacy that offers an alternative to such inescapable realities through rich, hand-mixed colors and subjects whose joy and connectedness radiates from the canvas.

Shaina McCoy’s art portrays the resilience of Black families that is rarely publicized to the same degree as Black suffering, brutalization, and death. McCoy’s colorful, intimate works—which often portray together figures from multiple generations, with various hair types, and different complexions—feel more like memories than photographic evidence.

Two black figures are without facial features and are set against an off-white background

Shaina McCoy, Bubbles and Such, 2017, Oil on canvas, 48.6 x 30.5 inches [courtesy of the artist and Ever Gold [Projects], San Francisco, CA]

Installation view of Shaina McCoy's exhibition

Shaina McCoy, “A Family Affair,” installation view, 2019 [courtesy of the artist and Ever Gold [Projects], San Francisco, CA]

Tyra A. Seals is an emerging curator of African diasporic art and a PhD student in the department of Art History at the University of Delaware. Her research seeks to address the social, political, historical, and economic forces that affect the works of female assemblage artists across the Black Atlantic. Seals is a proud Atlanta native and alumna of Spelman College, where she studied English and art history and graduated cum laude in 2018. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @thetyratales.