2020 State Fellow
Southern Prize Winner
Morrisville, North Carolina
Year of Award
Grant or Fellowship
Sherrill Roland was born in Asheville, North Carolina. He received both his BFA in Design and MFA in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Sherrill is an interdisciplinary artist and the founder of The Jumpsuit Project. His Socially Engaged Art project has been presented at Open Engagement Chicago, Oakland City Hall and the Michigan School of Law. Recent exhibitions include CAM Houston, LACE: Los Angeles and Studio Museum of Harlem. He was recently an Artist-In-Residence at the McColl Center of Art + Innovation in Charlotte, NC and a Rights of Return USA Fellow.
The perception of innocence, identity, and community can dictate our access to basic human rights.
My interdisciplinary practice addresses the complex construction of these three core entities: innocence, identity, and community; and reimagines their social and political implications in the context of the American criminal justice system.
For more than three years, I was forced to relinquish control of my life to the criminal justice system due to wrongful incarceration. After spending ten months in jail for a crime I was exonerated for, I looked to art as a vehicle for self-reflection and an outlet for emotional release. I began a year-long performance at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro in which I wore an orange jumpsuit every day until graduation. The Jumpsuit Project challenges audiences to address their prejudices about the jumpsuit, my body, and the issues surrounding incarceration. The work reshapes the narrative of the incarcerated and provides support for those most impacted. By sharing my story, and creating a space for others to share, I work to illuminate the invisible costs, damages, and burdens of incarceration.
As I migrate through traditional and non-traditional art spaces, I recognize the need to expand the conversation surrounding incarceration. Recent work incorporates the voices of the formerly incarcerated, increases the access of audiences to current resources, and provides new forms of content through performance, sculpture, drawing, and community workshops.
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