For close to 45 years Los Angeles-based artist Coleen Sterritt has fabricated hybrid sculpture evoking the interplay between nature, culture, and lived experience. Her source materials are pulled from everyday objects and elements. Plaster, tar, pinecones, tumbleweeds, found furniture, and studio refuse are just some of the components she uses to construct and express her richly evocative formal language. Questioning the diverse possibilities of sculpture in both scale and form, her eccentric, abstract structures present strong polarities possessing a resonance at once familiar and obscure.
Sterritt’s sculpture and drawings have been exhibited nationally and internationally in a wide variety of spaces and included in museum exhibitions at the Oakland Museum, the Riverside Art Museum, the Lancaster Museum of Art & History; Torrance Art Museum; Long Beach Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, L.A.; and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan. Her work is held in notable collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Contemporary Art, L.A.; The Crocker Art Museum; the Scripps College Collection; the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, NM; Nestlé USA; and The Capitol Group Companies, Los Angeles, New York, & London.
Named a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow in 2016, her other awards include the National Endowment for the Arts, the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program, Art Matters, Inc., the J. Paul Getty Trust Fund Fellowship from the California Community Foundation, and the City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship (COLA). In 2019 she received the Outstanding Educator Award from the International Sculpture Center. As the first community college professor to receive this award, she joined a list of distinguished colleagues from such institutions as Alfred University, Bard, California College of the Arts, University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers, Tyler School of Art at Temple University, University of Arizona, and California Institute of the Arts.
Sterritt’s teaching career began in 1983 and has included positions at California State University, Fullerton; Otis College of Art & Design; and The Claremont Graduate University. From 1998 to 2021 she was a professor and the faculty coordinator of the sculpture program at Long Beach City College. At LBCC, she initiated and developed the sculpture program, which enabled under-represented, marginalized students the opportunity to, not only complete an AA degree, but to transfer into top art programs across the country. Her students consistently transferred to four-year colleges and universities including UCLA, USC, Cal State Long Beach and Fullerton, San Francisco Art Institute, California College of the Arts, Art Center College of Design, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Degree students worked with her in preparing their graduate portfolios then successfully enrolled in MFA programs including Claremont Graduate University, SAIC, Otis College of Art & Design, and University of California, Irvine receiving numerous scholarships and fulltime tuition waivers.
Sterritt was born in Morris, Illinois and grew up in Chicago. After receiving a BFA from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1976, where she was the first woman designated as the sculpture studio shop assistant, she earned an MFA from Otis Art Institute (now Otis College of Art & Design), Los Angeles in 1979.