Sharif Bey

He // Him // His

[ID: A headshot of a man with tan skin and a reddish-brown full beard. His expressionless face is seen from a three-quarter view. He wears a grey kufi, and a navy-blue collared shirt with sky blue and olive green vertical stripes.]

Syracuse, NY
2022 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Windgate Foundation.

Sharif Bey was raised in a large African American family in Pittsburgh. While many of the men in his family left school for jobs in industry, Bey had a pivotal experience at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG) while attending high school. MCG played a formative role for Bey throughout his teens, giving him a foundation of skills and extensive connections in the ceramics world.

Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, he studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia. Later, he earned his BFA from Slippery Rock University, his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and his PhD (in art education) from Pennsylvania State University. Over the years, he has served as a resident artist at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, the Pittsburgh Glass Center, and the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts.

Inspired by modernism, functional pottery, Oceanic and African art, and art of the African diaspora, his works investigate the cultural and political significance of adornment and the symbolic and formal properties of archetypal motifs, while questioning how the meaning of icons and function transform across cultures and time.

His awards include a New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellowship, Pollock-Krasner grant, and J. William Fulbright scholarship. His work is featured in the public collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, and the Everson Museum of Art. Currently, Bey is an associate professor of art at Syracuse University.

Portrait photo by David Broda.
  • Artwork by Sharif Bey
    Raptor Quilt series #2, 2021, Earthenware and mixed media, dimensions 24 × 23 × 4 inches. Photo courtesy of Albertz Benda, New York.
    [ID: A wreath of curved talons made of polished stones hangs on a white wall. Each talon is uniform in size and shape but is uniquely colored in greens, browns, oranges, and yellows.]
  • Artwork by Sharif Bey
    Ceremonial Vessel #1, 2016, Earthenware and mixed media, dimensions 17 × 10 × 10 inches. Photo by Nathan J. Shaulis.
    [ID: An abstract grey stone sculpture resembling a bird with a beaked head, long neck, oblong triangular body, and two-cylinder shaped legs. The sculpture stands on a circular pedestal that is covered in jagged ceramic shards.]
  • Artwork by Sharif Bey
    Protest Shield: Zulu Knots, 2021. Earthenware and mixed media, dimensions 22 × 20 × 8 inches. Photo courtesy of Albertz Benda, New York.
    [ID: A mixed media mask displayed on a circular wall platform. The mask depicts a stylized face and is a terra cotta color with black accents around the lower half of the face and closed eyes. Five miniature fists crown the top of the head like small tufts of hair. The circular platform is ornately patterned with geometric shaped pieces of mixed media materials such as ceramic and metal pieces.]
Artwork by Sharif Bey Artwork by Sharif Bey Artwork by Sharif Bey