Creativity, Connection & Community

Terron Cooper Sorrells: How Strathmore’s focus on emerging artists is central to its mission.

November 20, 2020

By Mary Murdock

“That’s my son!” exclaimed Terron Cooper Sorrells’ mother as she and her family turned a corner on the Strathmore grounds to see Terron’s face looking back at them from the trees. Part of the Monuments: Creative Forces exhibition that took place at Strathmore in October, the dimensional video projection blinked and looked around as Terron’s family celebrated below.

“It was stunning,” says Terron, a 26-year-old painter and printmaker from Virginia. His first solo show took place at the Mansion at Strathmore in 2019, and was one of our most popular emerging artist exhibitions in recent years. “I love the narrative in [his paintings],” remarks Adah Rose Bitterbaum, a local gallery owner who purchased one of Terron’s works. “They are really powerful and very moving, especially to be done by such a young artist.

Because his work resonated with so many people, Terron was nominated and ultimately selected to be featured in the Monuments exhibition along with five other artists who shape community through their art. “My art is really for the masses,” says Terron. “Being chosen for the Monuments exhibition was an affirmation. It let me know that what I’m doing is important, and it’s worth pursuing.”

Strathmore is known for working with remarkable young artists like Terron whose work is informing, stretching, and changing perspectives. It’s one vital way the organization nourishes the creative soul of our community. Strathmore’s Artist in Residence (AIR) program is another program with a focus on shining a light on promising artists, providing them with both performance opportunities and tools to effectively build their careers. Terron’s older brother, Trey Sorrells, is an alum of the AIR class of 2019.

Trey, a saxophonist, applied for the Strathmore AIR program at the encouragement of several friends who had been involved with the program in the past. “[The AIR program] took my profession to another level. It was great for smoothing out those corners that you don’t know and things that you need brushing up on.” One of Trey’s most significant takeaways from the program, though, was the connections he made to other artists, and his ability to be flexible in collaborative settings. “It’s never just one year,” he says of the AIR program. “If you do it correctly, you’re going to continuously be involved.”

Terron and Trey both pursued the arts from a young age, with the encouragement of their mother, Portia Moore. A retired army officer, Moore often traveled internationally for her work, exposing her sons to different cultural experiences during the summers. With a background as a percussionist and visual artist herself, Moore enrolled her sons in art and music camps, giving them space to pursue their talents. “I give 100 percent [of the credit] to them as far as their hard work and their determination,” says Moore.

Of the nearly 10,000 guests that visited Monuments at Strathmore this October, many stopped to look up Terron’s art online after gazing, in awe, at his smiling face in the trees. “We talked to a lot of people,” says Moore of the visitors who became interested in Terron’s work. “They were saying [his work] was amazing.” As part of a community that deeply values the voices of artists like Terron, Strathmore is proud to help augment these voices, build connections for artists, and enrich the community with projects like Monuments.

Thank you for your support that helps Strathmore to amplify voices like Terron and Trey.