Mott Community College fine arts graduate has work featured in national exhibit

FLINT, Michigan -- Cheyenne Foreman’s art journey hasn’t always been easy because of the challenges she faces being disabled. 

“A lot of my childhood I wasn’t able to go out and play and do a lot of things,” she said. “So instead, I would draw.” 

With time, Foreman, 26, has learned to express her emotions through her art.

“Art is always something I’ve went to when I feel frustrated or anxious or sad,” Foreman said. “I’m actually getting better at expressing those ideas in my art.”

In addition, Foreman has a personal outlet she turns to to express the challenges she faces, physically and mentally: she shaves her head when things get hard. The first time she shaved her head was in late middle school. She believes shaving her head has always been a way of having control over something, feeling like there is immediate change that she can see and be reminded of. 

For one of Foreman’s art classes at Mott Community College, she was given an assignment that instructed her to create a painting which represented the passage of time. Usually, Foreman would take the assignment and simply do it, but she decided to take this assignment literally. In her art statement, Foreman explained how the feeling of isolation and feeling lost during the pandemic sparked different emotions to create her oil painting. The pandemic itself and the lives lost also gave her inspiration. 

For her oil painting she got a crazy idea and went for it. Foreman’s partner has a red lamp in their bedroom.

“Seeing them in that red light felt so intimate and so close, and so fascinating because you’re not used to seeing people in that lighting,” said Foreman, who recently graduated from Mott’s fine arts program.

Foreman shut off her bathroom lights, set up the red lamp, and proceeded to shave her head in the red lighting and take pictures. 

After taking the pictures, it took 20-30 hours and three big sessions to finish the painting. Foreman’s thoughts of her ability changed throughout the whole process. 

“I started painting feeling very lost and confused and very unsure of myself in my ability and finished it feeling a lot better,” she said.
 
A few of Foreman’s art instructors at MCC pushed her to submit her painting, entitled “Get These Bird’s Nests Out of Me,” to both national exhibit and statewide competitions. The piece won first place in a statewide competition and is now featured in a national exhibit called, “Art in Isolation.”

This exhibit was guided by curator HC Huynh and included a discussion panel. The event is sponsored by The Art and Art Education Program, Teachers College, Columbia University and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).

Art has always played an integral role in Foreman’s life. Along with her individual passion for it, she was inspired by watching her mom go through the graphic design program at Mott. She also draws inspiration from the culture of Flint.

“My plan is to keep making art and keep being passionate about it,” she said.

Read more articles by Miriam Bingham.