Anyone who has walked through Southampton Village in the off season and seen storefronts lined with brown paper or signs saying, “Visit us in St. Barts,” will be delighted to discover that creative local artwork is popping up along Main Street and Job’s Lane. A recent Southampton Village ordinance requiring window displays in vacant shops turned into an opportunity for local artists to display their work to village shoppers and strollers.
The Storefront Art Project is the brainchild of the Southampton Arts Center to tap into the work of East End artists and pair them with landlords to animate their store fronts. With the support of Mayor Jesse Warren, the Trustees and the Village of Southampton, this has become a win/win with landlords having beautiful window displays at no cost and artists finding new audiences to admire and potentially purchase their work.
Artist Kerry Sharkey-Miller has her photography on a rotating display at 84B Main Street. Sharkey-Miller recounts, “Amy Kirwin of the Southampton Arts Center asked me if I would be interested in doing one of the windows, and I was thrilled. This is amazing for the community and also with Covid it’s a great socially distanced art walk.”
Of her Wild Things installation she comments, “Wildlife and our local environment are recurring themes for me. I often focus on the play of light on my subjects, isolating details, and the infinitely changing shapes, patterns, colors and abstractions that occur naturally. Everything in nature is in a state of perpetual change, and I love to document those fleeting moments in time.” Particularly captivating are her trees which have almost a fairy tale look about them. “I am really drawn to the beauty of trees in winter. They all seem to have a unique story to tell and an aura of mystery about them I find intriguing.” She presents her photographs in a variety of mediums, sometimes printed on delicate rice papers or wood, but often she creates unique substrates such as hand polished and oxidized aluminum.
Sharkey-Miller grew up in Southampton and now lives in Sag Harbor with deep roots in the community having had a gallery in Southampton for ten years featuring Native American art then a career teaching photography, digital printing and stop — motion animation at the Ross School. In 2012 she turned to freelance work including photographing homes for architects and builders and art installations as well as pursuing her personal work.
Her passion for travel around the globe and keen eye to document the human condition have led to some of her award-winning images. “Shaggy Dog at The Chocolate Factory, Brazil,” won an honorable mention of the prestigious Julia Margaret Cameron Award. Sharkey-Miller comments, “There was a community of people that lived in a burnt-out chocolate factory in a favela. As a dog lover I could relate to how proud people were of their dogs. It’s one of my favorite images.” Another was when traveling in Peru she spent time in a village devastated by floods. She met a couple and captured them inside a tent they were living after losing their home. “Every day the man would walk with his wife into the makeshift village for community meals,” she recounts, “I was so taken by how attentive he was to his wife. It was very moving and beautiful.” The resulting “Couple Displaced by 2010 Peruvian Floods,” earned her a Black & White Spider Award and WPGA Portrait Award.
For now, in her newest installation, it is actually Sharkey-Miller’s home town which is her inspiration, and it is all those who stroll by (whether they make it to St. Barts this winter or not) who benefit.