Black Artists Fund Recipient: Shonna McDaniels

Shonna McDaniels

Launched this past summer, the Black Artists Fund has already disbursed two rounds of grants, with more contributions and camaraderie planned for 2021. In this series, we introduce some of the BAF recipients. For more about the BAF grants, go here.

Shonna McDaniels

As a working artist in Sacramento for more than 30 years and the founder of Sojourner Truth African Heritage Museum in South Sacramento, Shonna McDaniels says she’s finally landed her seat at the artists table.

In August, McDaniels completed a mural on the SMUD wall at 1423 19th St. It depicts an African-American woman with deep hues of Black skin tones confidently taking her rightful place at a table—a piece she says speaks to her journey as an artist.

“Ive been through a lot of trials and tribulations as an African-American artist just not being able to have a seat at the table,” she says. “But I got to do what I wanted to do. My vision came true. I got to have my seat at the table. It was just a very empowering experience.”

McDaniels says she’s looking forward to using her BAF grant to buy art supplies so in 2021 she can focus on creating more paintings on canvas and building a website where she can sell prints of her work. As the founder of the Sojourner Truth African Heritage Museum, McDaniels stays plenty busy with arts education and outreach to more than 12,000 kids annually.

In honor of Black History Month, the museum tentatively plans to host an in-person celebration called Black Lives Matter Then, Black Lives Matter Now with a new permanent installation of a three-dimensional wooden ship as well as artwork from local artists on display.

“What I want for 2021 is just to create art without being rushed to create art. Just in my own time, I get so busy with admin work at the museum and other programs that my work is kind of secondary sometimes,” McDaniels says. “I really want to just focus on my work, give myself more time for me as an artist to create, create, create.”