100 Creatives

Tempe Artist Sierra Joy on Making Personal Connections Through Art

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 33. Sierra Joy.

If you've spent any time on Roosevelt Row, then you know Sierra Joy's work.

The Tempe-based visual artist's most visible work is a jagged mountain range in Easter egg pinks, yellow, and blues on the low, block building that's now home to BE coffee shop at Third and Roosevelt streets. And for anyone who takes it in, the work achieves Joy's ultimate aim in creating. "I want for people to look at my work and feel that they are a part of it, that they are connected and more open," she says.

Connections are what keep her inspired and what lead the artist to experiment and expand her creative purview. "In the past, I worked in water-based mediums, painting or drawing the majority of my work," she says. "Over the years, I have expanded to more sculptural and textile mediums, incorporating painting, drawing, and building up spaces to create environments that encourage positive communication and kinship."

Joy had spent much of her early 20s traveling the world, "always moving and flowing from one experience to the next." But an injury a few years ago brought her back to Phoenix, where she was forced to put down roots and stay in one place. "Anyone who knows me, knows this is a huge accomplishment for me!" she says. "I now have a home with a studio and a garden, an actual home base!"

At 28, Joy has used that stability to push her practice. This summer, that's involved making a line of hyper-colorful hats embellished with tassels, googly eyes, fringe, and sequins called +POCKET SHADE+. "It's been really fun to work with wearables, it's almost like I get to crown folks with my art," she says. "I really love integrating people's character into each custom one."

I was born here, so I suppose I came here with my mama's body.

I make art because art has always been the most direct way for me to render my internal world to the external world. Without it, I don't feel like I can fully translate my experience to others.

I work really well in activated spaces. When I have my friends' creative energy flowing around me, I feel like our stories are constantly intertwining and influencing each other's work.

A photo posted by Sierra Joy (@sierrajoystew) on

All of my walls are filled with inspiration! I have a lot of my friends' work hanging in my space. Our outdoor walls are all painted with murals that our amazing and talented friends have painted through the years.

I've learned most from traveling and collaborating with other artists.

I don't believe there is a specific code to "good work." Initiate projects with honesty and allow art to actualize itself naturally. This can take on many meanings for different people. Everyone has a different process. Be adaptable and supportive to fellow artists.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more ARTIES! Let's work together!

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel
66. Michael Lanier
65. Jessica Rajko
64. Velma Kee Craig
63. Oliver Hibert
62. Joya Scott
61. Raji Ganesan
60. Ashlee Molina
59. Myrlin Hepworth
58. Amy Ettinger
57. Sheila Grinell
56. Forrest Solis
55. Mary Meyer
54. Robert Hoekman Jr.
53. Joan Waters
52. Gabriela Muñoz
51. ColorOrgy
50. Liz Magura
49. Anita and Sam Means
48. Liz Ann Hewett
47. Tiffany Fairall
46. Vanessa Davidson
45. Michelle Dock
44. Nia Witherspoon
43. Monique Sandoval
42. Nayon Iovino
41. Daniel Davisson
40. Andrew King
39. Michelle Moyer
38. Jimmy Nguyen
37. Tiffany Lopez
36. Kristin Bauer
35. Donna Isaac
34. Douglas Miles