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Art kept her ‘above water.’ Now it’s her full-time job

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Shaunt’e Lewis was the student in school who would rather doodle on everything than actually do the assigned work. She was always the creative and artistic type and took every art class she could in middle school and high school. 

Lewis is now a visual artist and illustrator. She lives in Fishers, where she works out of a home studio. 

Lewis, 36, started taking her art more seriously about five years ago. She presented at different venues and cafes to get her name out there. 

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Lewis saw an opportunity to turn art into her full-time job. She was a hair stylist for 15 years, but the business she worked at had to shut down. It was a difficult time, but there was more work available through art. 

“Art really kept me above water,” said Lewis, who went full time in January. 

She joined other artists in helping the city promote its mask-up campaign in 2020. 
Lewis mostly does portraits of African American women. She initially wasn’t sure why she was drawn to those specific portraits but thinks it had to do with the influence of her mother and grandmother. 

“Just trying to convey self-love and self-identify and acceptance of one’s self,” Lewis said of her work. “The strength of a woman. Just embracing all the things that make up a woman.” 

Lewis’ portraits are vibrant with lots of reds and yellows. She also does murals and original paintings for private collectors and commercial clients. 

Lewis has had her art featured at Meet the Artists, Mass Ave Wine, Haven Yoga Studio, Fishers City Hall and many other places over the last few years. 

Her first bit of success was back in fourth grade, when Lewis won an art contest at school and had her work displayed on a billboard. She told the Recorder in a Q&A in 2018 that was when she knew she was meant to be a creator. 

“As far as I can remember, I’ve always been allowed to express myself through my art,” Lewis said. “My mother would let me paint on my walls and even cut up and make new clothes out of my old ones. … So, I would say that many adults in my life made sure that I was able to express my creativity and create art in all forms without limitation.” 
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick. 

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